Confessions of a Proud Cupper
I am technically a graduate, so I suppose this article counts. Believe me, it was touch and go, for a while, and I am not ashamed of admitting that my parents, friends (and self) all breathed a sigh of relief when we finally got confirmation that I would definitely be graduating.
This article series is normally contributed to by “the Stud Junta” of insti. The brightest minds. That amazing Litsoc senior. That one research God who won institute blues and had 12 different kinds of tea. That dude who was Saarang Events Core and got the 30+LPA Goldman Sachs job. That one humanities girl who wrote so well, she managed to make snails seem interesting. That SAC speaker who went to McKinsey.
The original plan was for myself and Sachin Sridhar (whom I have spent close to half of my waking hours in insti with) to write this article together. Sachin is sufficiently stud to deserve to give good fundaes and I’d get to see my creative writing skills published on T5E one last time. (Saras for LitSoc!) Unfortunately, that idiot went and got himself a job with Microsoft in their world-wide headquarters at Redmond, WA, so I’m stuck doing this alone. If you feel that the content is sub-par, you know whom to blame. You will, however, constantly see references to Sachin throughout this article.
Clockwise from top left: Freshie year, Third year, Placements, Last Saarang, Graduates. Sach and I have come a long way, but our expressions have never changed.
If you’re in a hurry and just wanted to look at this piece to see what new fundaes this essentially irrelevant, philosophical, and ranting old pass-out wanted to put, this is it. If you’ve ever taken fundaes from me, you’ll know that I have three points I’d like to make.
One. Try as much as possible to retain the freshie inside you. Don’t waste time worrying about competition or its lack thereof. Irrespective of metric, there are always people both better and worse than ourselves. So worry about yourself. Worry about having fun, bettering yourself and discovering your interests, which neatly brings me to –
Two. Discover your passions, preferably in insti. If you can’t, that’s okay too, but the important thing is that you try. Insti opens the doors to worlds that you may not have known existed. It would be a shame to not take full advantage of it.
Three. Take risks. Put yourself out there. You won’t ever get anything worth having without taking risks. Sometimes you’ll fail, and that’s really okay. The earlier in life you fail, the faster you’ll learn the lesson that while a punch to the gut hurts, it doesn’t hurt that much either.
For those readers who are as jobless as I was a year ago while reading Srijith Rajagopalan’s article, and want to keep reading, let’s begin shall we?
Pikachu and Fox McCloud – Remaining a freshie at heart:
Freshie life is exciting. Everything is new, it’s almost like the colours are brighter, the air a tad bit fresher (pun intended) and the world a little bit more joyous. First year readers, remember this time of your lives for as long as you can. Try to freeze your hearts into remaining the way they are right now. You see, freshies have a certain freedom that us seniors lose over the years. They are usually unafraid to fail. They will turn up to an event once, at least, just to see what it’s like. They’ll try their hand at new things all the time. Most of them may never return, but they have the guts to try new things. Ask a third year how many LitSoc events (s)he went to that (s)he had not already tried out in their first and second years, and you’ll notice that most of the times, that answer will be zero. So freshies, don’t ever change that part about yourselves. Keep trying out new things. Explore. Wonder. Take those risks.
To be honest, Sachin and I never really took ourselves or our social lives seriously enough to want to be popular or successful. You see, the both of us had come to insti expecting to be average, or below average at best; Sachin’s dad and my elder brother (both alumni) had prepared us by telling stories of people far smarter than I ever will be, and so I expected to be one of the least intelligent and talented people in my batch. I never expected to be smart enough to be anywhere near the top of anything, and that, ironically worked really well; I was happy because anything which came my way was great. For instance, I had not thought I’d get into NSO, so when I did, I was blown away. I had expected to be a 7 pointer in my first sem, so my GPA of above 8 (I did finally end up being a 7 pointer) was a pleasant surprise. I was a happy freshie. *sigh*
L-R: Team759Pampa, The first Saarang – Karnivool, My friends have trippy expressions
Unencumbered by the desire to win anything, and just seeking fun (“I mugged in a factory for years to get to this place, I want to have fun!”, I very vehemently told my parents after their first and only attempt to get me to study) we went ahead and participated in anything that took our fancy and discovered some of our favourite activities.
So what made my freshie year so awesome? Well, it had the stuff of legends, I’ll say. No seriously! It had fire breathing turtle monsters, alien planets, laser swords and beam cannons, a Pikachu and a talking, laser shooting Fox.
No, you imbecile. We weren’t doing drugs. (Also, don’t do drugs)
We were (and still are) huge dorks who used to play Super Smash Brothers Melee and MarioKart on a Dolphin emulator, with one controller (me) plugged into Sachin’s (even by then) old laptop while he would use his keyboard. Like I said. The stuff of legends. Just imagine two freshies, sitting in the top floor of Pampa and playing a game almost nobody on campus knew about over and over and over. And the thing is, we kept doing that all the way until my final semester. MarioKart multiplayer in 439 Tapti – hands down my favourite memories from insti life. And that’s important too, having simple moments.
Acads ended up taking a backseat (for me, at least. Sachin was the institute topper at a CGPA of 10.0 and branch changed to CS). Instead, we began to build ourselves a circle of other misfits such as ourselves (photos found below). We invented insti names for some people. Coolaj, Superstud and Muggu are famous. Anju and Hash didn’t catch on quite as much.
L-R: Muggu, Coolaj, and Superstud (aka Rava, the Mascot of insti)
Becoming a senior, making friends and doing PoRs:
One of the things you learn in insti is that your circles become fluid over time. Someone whom you thought a close friend when they were in your wing in your freshie hostel wil l end up seperated in second year and you lose touch. Or maybe they had that one activity, PoR, or course in common which was the basis for that friendship and once you’re done with it, you slowly lose touch. You want to stay in touch and keep the fire burning, so to speak, but it fades with time, for whatever reason (usually something else taking up your time). Indeed, I lost touch with a lot of people while I was in campus itself, and I genuinely feel sorry that those friendships faded with time. That doesn’t mean, however, that you stop being friends with them. You may have ended up doing different things, but most insti junta will still hold you as dearly in their hearts and minds as you hold them. Once you’re an insti student, you have a family that will expect nothing and will give unconditionally.
L-R The (self-proclaimed) cuppers of Ramu Tea Stall, my two favourite Computer Science boys, and the Core Team Saarang 2018 – ‘nuff said.
Various activities in insti resulted in my getting to know different spectacular individuals, some who shared my views and others who had entirely different perspectives and even ended up changing my views. That’s another amazing thing about insti. The rate at which you grow is phenomenal, and a large amount of that has got to do with the sheer diversity of people and ideas. I can guarantee you that every conversation with someone in insti will leave you changed.
Saarang (or Shaastra if that’s your cup of tea, or placements or inter-IIT or whatever new organization it is that you’re a part of which will make you interact with lots of people) is another massive learning experience. No class has ever taught me how to handle any kind of crisis, learn how to handle a 32 channel sound card on the fly, entertain 80 people for an hour and a half, or manage enraged faculty, vendors who didn’t understand any of the languages I spoke or just provide me the sheer amount of entertainment that Saarang had to offer. Given a chance to do over my insti life, the one thing that I would ask to re-live with no changes would be my time as a Saarang coord.
L-R: Music junta prior to the first ever weekender, Rock-show 2016 with Srijith Rajagopalan, My events cores – their expressions accurately describe their respective coreships (earnest, wary and stoned), My last trip to Pondicherry with those cores who were sober enough to wake up for a picture
Career choices – Conventional and otherwise:
My first piece of advice is that you actively search for your passion. Figure out what you want to do for the next decade. It will be really great if you can find it while in insti, and if you have, you can skip this part. If you’re like me and are yet to figure it out, well, I can empathize. Read on.
I followed an extremely traditional, well trodden path while in insti with regard to the PoRs that I had done, and the career I chose. I basically did the same things that seniors I was close to (and of course my elder brother) had done. I was one of those people who was very comfortable with being inside his comfort zone and one piece of gyaan that I definitely can give is that it is absolutely okay to go down the beaten path. It takes a lot of motivation and drive to create your own path, and it is almost impossible to find that drive when you haven’t found your passion.
I have graduated and am working in my first job, and I still haven’t discovered my passion, and that’s okay! You, the dear reader, are probably still in college and it really is okay to find stop-gap solutions until you discover your true passion. Don’t force yourself down any one road simply because it has become hip to “try new things”. There are a lot of seniors who will tell you to not follow the trends and make your own mark. That’s absolutely fine. IF you know what you’re doing is what you want to be doing for a very very long time. Otherwise, everything else is more or less the same, and what harm is there in choosing the path of least resistance?
If nothing else, Consulting gets great food. Featuring Udith and Ferril (new joinees with me – both clearly far better looking than myself), and the nice BCG folks who payed for our lunch at ITC 😀
Being the lazy person that I am, I only rarely ever felt energetic, and even then it was mainly with regards to Saarang work. I didn’t interact with as many people as I should have. I was actually not quite the senior that I had wanted to be; one who would chill with his juniors and be cool enough for them to want to hang out with and look up to. There are a bunch of things on my bucket list for insti that I never got to do; I never did climb the roof of the CS department, I never played multi-player AoE on LAN. I never hosted more than 3TB on DC++ (highest was 2.8ish in my second year) among a whole bunch of other, less mentionable stuff.
So what I shall leave you lot with and go to bed so that I can make it to office tomorrow morning is with regards to being a cupper in life (if you don’t know what cupping is, stop reading right now and learn insti lingo, you dolt).
Don’t end your insti life as a series of missed opportunities and chances not taken. You shouldn’t ever look back and wonder “how would my life be today, had I taken the risk of telling the girl I liked in third semester how I felt?”. Instead, try, make the effort and fail. To quote my best friend: “If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying until your failure is statistically significant”
Life is not a competition. JEE is. Insti has a lot of areas where you can compete. In life, you don’t get a grade-card. You graduate and die, no matter what. There’s no wrong answers in life, so it’s okay to cup every so often. Keep cupping. I’m a proud cupper, and so is Sachin Sridhar and his CG was 9.5 or something.
Even that stud final year that you look up to, who seems to have it all together? You know the one I’m talking about. He/she probably has 4 consult “peaks” and you basically want to be him/her when you’re in your own final year. They don’t know what the hell they’re doing either. Every decision they’re making, every day, they’re winging it and praying like crazy that the excrement doesn’t hit the exhaust. And he/she is a cupper too. In times of crisis, take a deep breath, tell yourself “Life is vegpuff” and know that there is at least one senior (called Srikanth Musti) who successfully graduated and got a job with no appreciable skill-set whatsoever, and that you’ll be fine.
PS: Those readers who are curious about what “Life is vegpuff” means should consider visiting Ramu Tea Stall and paining Anshuman ‘Anju’ Karthik or Arjun ‘Coolaj’ Kumar for fundaes. Alternatively, you can track me, Dipak Narayan or Sachin down and ask one of us too.
Three months. That’s the difference between those two pictures.
It was all a scam.