From the Executive Editor of T5E to everything else she committed herself to, she brought her style and left a mark. Five years of living and growing up in insti in turn, has also molded her into what she is now. Raghavi Kodati, was a popular figure in the campus and she puts together her memories of the five years in this brilliant article on her birthday. We wish her a very Happy Birthday and good luck for all her future endeavors. This is the third in the ‘Through the Goggles of a Graduate’ series.
It seems like it was only yesterday when I was running around for no dues, and wondering how ironical a name it was for insti’s final rite of passage to the real world — the irony being in the fact that if there’s any place you owe infinite dues to, it has to be this!
Five years is too long a time to spend in insti and go out unaltered. It’s a life-changing experience that gives one a sense of identity, loyalty and belonging to this place, and even more specifically to hostels, departments or favourite clubs. What shaped me over the last few years is the sheer studness of the people I met here – the insightful conversations and the perspectives they shared, their ability to put fight and balance seemingly infinite interests and have fun all along.
That brilliance, once you spot it, is infectious. In my own way, I have attempted to imbibe some of it – from the Co-CAS who started out as a Robocon vol perfecting the art of bolt-fitting, from my hostel seniors who brought Sharav from nowhere to high-up on the LitSoc table, from the basketball captain who pushed the team from ignominy to podium finish, and from the classmate who asks way too many questions in class – it’s impossible to list them all. The influence has been varied and deep; but mostly these people were all case studies in fight-putting and unending enthu.
While I have had my share of ups and downs, mostly blurry in my memory, all I feel now is a warm sense of sublimity: “a feeling when one thing is about to become something else. Day to night, caterpillar to butterfly. Fawn to doe. Experiment to result. Boy to man,” as Anthony Doerr defines it. Insti has changed my fundamental identity in many ways – I am now an engineer, then an editor, an athlete, a secretary and a Sharavite. But if there’s one identity I still cling on to that would be the one of a freshie. Even as I graduate, I keep promising myself that I will bring a freshie’s sense of enthusiasm to anything that I do.
Five years is also a long enough time to get very familiar with insti and reflect on the many things taken for granted here. For example, mess. Too many people crib too much about the quality of food in the messes. But I’d like to believe that great conversations more than make up for the unappetizing food. For most part of my stay, I have really looked forward to going to mess and catching up with friends or striking conversations with strangers or even just reading a book peacefully. I remember one particular conversation where I arbitrarily spoke to somebody who’d turn out to be my room neighbor when I moved from Sharav to Sabarmati. Memories of great conversations with wing and class junta are slightly fuzzy though, in part due to the countless number of those.
Similarly, we don’t value our other resources like water, power and internet enough. The adequacy of resources in insti makes us unconscious to the resource deficit that exists in the real world. The Chennai floods and the subsequent 4-day long power blackout though were a real lesson in conservation. With no guarantees on when electricity would come back, we started conserving food, water and power – the same ‘we’ who waste half the food on their plates, leave taps open in washrooms and lights on in hostel corridors, not to mention our own rooms. I hope the incident stays alive in our minds and that each of us will individually cut down on any wasteful use.
On a broader student body-level, perception of student governance and PoRs are two things that probably need some thought. Last student general election, a dismal 4752 votes were polled out of a 8000-strong electorate. Even worse, six out of nine institute secretary posts were contested by a single candidate. In Sharav, eight out of nine posts were contested by a single candidate (Two years ago, when I served on the hostel council, there was competition for almost all posts). The hostel soapbox comprised of a bare few seniors and friends of the candidates standing for the election. At this rate, I feel concerned about the state of student governance on campus. If we don’t care enough to vote (or vote thoughtfully) in a student election that affects all of us on a day-to-day basis, will we care enough to take part in the democratic processes of the nation? I’m afraid not. It’s difficult to comprehend the wider implications when the ‘nation’s elite’ doesn’t care about the democratic set-up on its own campus.
But at the same time, we have also evolved to give less importance to actual learning and contribution over power and positions of responsibility. Most of us calculate how much weight a point will occupy on our CVs, than how much we’ll actually learn from it. The flood of PoRs in insti has also made a conscious choice very difficult. In the process, things that require long-term commitment but still end up constituting a bare few lines on your resume, like sports, unfortunately lose out.
In my case, I can unequivocally say that playing basketball for institute is where I grew the most as a person. PoRs have definitely been helpful and introduced me to a great number of people whom I would not have met otherwise. In retrospect though, it was only the consciously chosen and sometimes off-beat PoRs that helped me a great deal. Also, in my experience with resumes and interviews, I have discovered that more than that individual fancy (and fat) PoR on your resume, it is the story that you present which speaks for you. All this makes a strong case to not pursue PoRs blindly but consciously choose your interests and act appropriately – with or without PoRs
If there’s any regret going out of this place, it’s probably that I haven’t been able to utilize insti’s facilities to the fullest (There has just not been enough time!) The number of facilities to learn things in insti is simply mind blowing – from sports to cultural and tech. Stepping out of campus, I cringe at the thought of not having access to these. I can’t imagine the amount of additional fight and time I might have to put to locate a basketball court, find people to play with and travel to that place. Compare this to the 2-minute cycle ride from hostels to the courts. Sigh.
But I‘ll probably manage, no? Insti has given me enough taste for learning to keep going, come what may.