Design by: Swati Sheenum
Editor: Mahima Raut
Pardon me for repeating this: “No one expected an apocalypse involving just sitting at home”. Where is all the expected hysterical chaos and crowds running amok? Where are the meteorites crashing down like fireballs?
We’re all crying over that one T-shirt we left behind, not to mention the canceled Hostel nights. The pandemic has taken away all the possibilities of socialising and placed it in a social media setting where it is limited to an occasional outcry for insti life and digging up old photos every once in a while or maybe to the extent of participating in random Instagram challenges. The “productive” ones are dying of webinars while the “not-so-productive” ones are busy playing bingo on Instagram stories. One thing that is quite amiss is the hostel feels. Being a part of the “hostel culture” and “inter hostel competitions” has a history of bringing unlikely hostel inmates together, mostly for the points but the fun part lies atop. There is a popular opinion that the hostel culture is slowly tapering away with very few people putting “enthu” and effort for it. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Litsoc and Shroeters play a significant role in nurturing the cultural and sporting inclinations of an average Insti student. Whether it was dropping toothpaste from the second floor, catching eggs from far away, or congratulating a fellow hostel mate on the WhatsApp group for winning points, these events never cease to bring buoyant spirits to the otherwise deserted hostel corridors. This article attempts to unveil the little known aspects of inter hostel competitions and introduce some human beings who were active in this scene.
Mandak pulls off a miracle!
Ferril Samal graduated in 2018 and has done various roles like Litsoc Participant, Litsec and core member of the organising team, he recalls some exciting times through Litsoc journey in insti..
It was during my role as Organising member that my friend Ravi Teja (my partner in crime) and I got front row seats to probably the most gripping litsoc story insti has ever seen. Before the start of Litsoc 16-17, Sharav had been dominating the cultural scene for 5 years straight. Sharav was loaded with talent and was obviously gunning for 6 in a row, to beat Saras’s all-time record (during the Ashwin Pananjady era where one year he scored 90% the Saras Tally). But that changed in litsoc 16-17. The smallest hostel in IIT-Madras, the one that had been slowly sinking, the one that would cease to exist a year later, stole the championship from Sharav. 16-17 litsoc was the most competitive litsoc I’d seen during my 5 years. I’d never seen so many Litsecs and soc-secs take the championship so seriously. Every predominantly undergrad hostel wanted to beat Sharav. Mandak was one of them. Mandak had always been a powerhouse despite its small size. It had been the home of multiple political “godfathers”. They were always the kingmakers and they knew it. So Mandak pride runs deep. But that year an army of 50 second years under the command of two savvy secretaries put that pride on steroids and gave Mandak its first Litsoc victory in many years, and the last one for eternity. Mandak fought for every point they could muster. That year due to many unforeseen circumstances, there was no mega prize distribution event. The handover of the Litsoc Winner’s title happened in front of Tunga-Bhadra hostel. The Sharav secretaries handed over the shield that had made its home in their hostel during the last 5 years. It was an emotional moment to behold as the Sharav litsec was in tears. You could feel the sentiment of an entire hostel through her. The Mandak litsec gave the shield to his friend and told him to take it back to the hostel. He dropped his Litsec post for a moment and consoled her. These two litsecs were an adorable couple long before this litsoc even began and remained so after litsoc too. Things have changed after that litsoc. Giant cranes stand where Mandak once stood, Sharav won litsoc again and I just heard my home, Ganga has won it this year (congrats guys. So proud). It never ceases to amaze me how a scoreboard for cultural activities in an engineering college can become the impetus for high-quality art, ruthless politics, lasting camaraderie, movie-like drama and memories for life.
Alaknanda creates Euphoria!
Yadhukrishnan used to play for the Alaknanda football team, and was one of the pioneers in the making of the famous Alak chant “Ole Ole”. He says team members are selected by their performance during Intra hostel matches. Even though there weren’t match preparations as such, the hostel made it a habit to play 7v7 games in their quadrangle on an almost daily basis. Alaknanda matches for the last few years have been a major crowd puller/pleaser and for that, he says “During my last year in IITM, we had a very mediocre team, with a few brilliant players, but we didn’t have the squad depth to realistically make a go at winning a trophy. But our talent pool is not something we can control. So we decided to control the second most important aspect of a sports team – THE ATMOSPHERE. We knew we had to make people get invested in the team emotionally. If only we can make people who are not exactly into sports feel like this team plays for them too, we’d have a chance at getting there”. Alak Cobras (as they call themselves) including Yadhukrishnan have invested time in making chants and learning it. They also got few instruments and made a social media blitz by making a very celebrated support video from all over the world which became the crest of the whole movement. He adds that creating a sense of occasion goes a lot into it. When asked about his favourite memories Yadhu recalls “ I want to make it clear that I was a fringe member of the squad and my best contribution on the field might have been to make a reckless two-footed tackle on a dude which sent him flying. ( But I enjoyed it :P) And the best memory for me is to see someone who has never watched a game of football in their life, come to Sangam and cheer ole, ole, ole. (or against us too) ‘cause that beats any trophy or any volley from 40 yards out. That just shows we have done our job and got one more person to invest their time in us and when that happens on a large enough scale, we know our efforts have borne fruits”
Another quizzing madlad from Alak reminisces..
Shashwat, former Litsec of Alaknanda is a firm believer in ‘Litsoc enthu’ and ‘hostel culture’. For Shashwath, he became part of the Litsoc scene through Word games and Quizzing. He got exposed to dramatics, creative writing, and speaking events which otherwise he wouldn’t have done naturally. He thinks that working together with hostel junta across all years was a good way to get to know one’s hostel mates better and helps in forming the first line of support throughout college life and Inter-hostel events are a large part of what makes insti so special and have a way of sneaking in life lessons that you would not learn in any course. He says “The first few months on campus can be some of the most life-changing moments for a freshie. A fundae session or a freshie event might catch your eye, you might discover you have a talent for it or simply enjoy indulging in it. Before you know it, you are knee-deep into the activities of the club, you have found other like-minded folks that you can learn from. You turn to these events and the club to break the monotony of acads and college life. It forms a part of your identity or introduces you to a side of yourself you may not have noticed before”. Shashwat recalls the year when Alak came within a heart-breaking single-digit number of points of beating Sharav, something that had not seemed like even a remote possibility for the last couple of years. He also witnessed the monumental treasure hunt: this one time when three- quarters of the hostel made it happen showcasing electrifying ‘hostel enthu’. He adds that limiting the number of participants for solo events can be a deterrent for people who want to try out a new event or looking to have some fun.
Tapti fights back!
Ajmal strongly believes in the power of sports to inspire and unite people from diverse backgrounds and create a feeling of togetherness. He says Schroeters acts as a great platform for thousands of students to interact with each other and work together as a team for achieving their goals. Tapti conducts heavy practice sessions and practice matches. They start well before the commencement of Schroeter and shortlists potential inmates. Ajmal also talks about Akash Bashvar who according to him was an incredible captain and motivated the team’s spirits when the season did not take off well. They went on to defeat their “biggest rival” Ganga which had players like John and Mishra who dictated the game and made it difficult for Tapti to win. The Schroeter’s final atmosphere was pretty heated up because of a controversial goal and the match ended with a penalty which Tapti won by 4-2. They have won the Schroeters with record points that year and they are quite proud of it. He adds that increasing social media outreach with more posters and experience sharing would impart more interest among the student community and might pull out a huge crowd.
Current scenario :
According to Unnikrishannan who is the events Core for 2020-21 the access to high-speed unlimited LAN and OTT services have prevented the students from stepping out of their rooms and engage in fun activities not just for themselves. An introductory session to all these events from the first year might help in increasing the visibility and popularity. The whole thing about not having the right or no introduction to the culture is probably the reason why they would prefer binging in their room over Litsoc avial, but that’s speculative.