We’ve never seen him standing. He’s always running from class to class, jumping down flights of stairs or asking us to run because the class has already started. And he does it all with a smile on his face. Yes, you know who we’re talking about. Our very own CRC ‘mic uncle’. Through this ‘Humans of Insti’ piece, we bring you his story. Read on to find out how he manages 13 classes when we can’t even handle one!
We ask him to tell us a bit about himself. He checks and make sure that we’re only recording the conversation, and not taking a video.(‘I’m not dressed for it, he says’)
My name is Kamal and I’ve been working as a Project Technician at CRC since November 2011. I’m in charge of the PA systems here at CRC, and I also help out at CLT, OAT and SAC when needed. I was actually a Diploma Candidate and a B.Tech student with arrears before coming here. After coming here, it was with the help of Vikram, a student from the Metallurgy department, that I cleared my arrears. He helped me with RP and M3 over two days and nights, and with his help, I am now a B.Tech graduate.
We find out that ‘mic uncle’ has a workday so packed that we wonder how he has the energy to run around the CRC corridors all day. His work at CRC starts at 7 a.m and ends at 9 p.m. He then goes back and works from 2 a.m to 4 a.m at an electronics firm. So..sleep? ‘ I sleep in the 4-5 hours in between’,he says, laughing at our dumbstruck faces and continues.
Sometimes, when I have some free time in between lectures, I sit and listen to some of the professors’ classes. My current passion is Photoshop Design. After learning some things from the class, I go home and download tutorials from the Internet so that I can learn more and practice.
We then asked if there were any professors that he still remembers or any other incidents that happened. He laughs, saying that ‘there are lots’ but proceeds to tell us about some of the more memorable incidents.
I really enjoy working here because of the people around me. All the staff and faculty members greet me and enquire about my well being. They also sometimes help clear my doubts. One person I would like to mention is Anand Sir from the Central Workshop, who helps clear my doubts in electronics. This helps me at my other place of work, which is an electronics firm in Sriperumbudur.
I also still remember Professor Sukhendu Das from the Computer Science department. Those were the days in which CRC still had no AC. There was only a wall-mounted fan, which he was not satisfied with. He used to ask for Pet bottles with water and other amenities, and because it was my first year, I used to run around trying to get stuff. He’s a really nice person and talks very well to me. Another professor I know really well is Professor Rajkumar. He was the one who arranged for meetings with the Dean and got the AC installed.
Among the guest faculty members, I fondly remember Professor William Gnanasekaran. I had been helping him here since 2012 as a technician. There is one incident that I still remember. One day, he was taking an extra class in the evening,and a student in his class was feeling dizzy because of low sugar. He first sent a student to get something sweet, but when the student did not return for quite some time, he asked me. I rushed and bought a Dairy Milk from Gurunath and a box of laddus from CC. Till today, he remembers me by name and makes sure that he stops and talks to me. All the professors here are very nice and co-operate well even if there is something wrong in setting up the projector or the mikes. All these small gestures make me feel that I am a part of this institute.
Many of us(the author of this article included), have lost our phones(multiple times) at CRC. We’ve also experienced the relief of finding it safe and secure in the Security office. Turns out it was Kamal who started the practice of searching classrooms for lost stuff and keeping them safe. And as expected, he has many stories to tell about this…
When I came here in 2011, I did not know that phones going missing was a regular thing. Only when students came to me multiple times complaining about lost mobile phones did I realise how serious an issue this was. I found out that other students were taking the unattended phones, probably with the intention of giving it back, but even then it leads to a lot of confusion. So when it reached a point where almost 3-4 phones were going missing each day, I decided to take the extra risk and solve the problem. Me along with the security guard, search all 13 rooms after each class, and all the items found are properly documented and returned. Each month,the security guard gets around 55 letters, all of them complaining about one lost phone or the other. Sometimes, even professors leave behind their tabs and phones. One professor even forgot his laptop once and I remember that I ran to his department and returned it to him.
When asked about the ever-present monkey problem, he laughs and tells us that it’s one of the most ‘challenging’ aspects of his job.
It is in the summers that monkeys are a major nuisance,because they start coming in the mornings itself. In the winter, they come only in the evenings and we don’t mind them as much. They are the ultimate tricksters and have stolen many things from both students and faculty. I remember that Professor Varadhan’s Pet bottle was stolen by a monkey. They’ve also stolen bags(sensing that it had pizza boxes inside) and actually hung it up on trees! Getting them down was no mean task.
As we were about to wrap up, he requests that we give more importance to the missing mobile phones. They are more of a problem than the monkeys,he says!
When people tell us that they have lost their phones, we feel really bad. I have even put up posters reminding students not to leave things behind. But sometimes they don’t grasp the seriousness of the situation and write things on these posters or doodle on them. Not even one rupee comes from trees. Phones are very valuable items and need to be taken better care of. I know that they have a lot of academic pressure, but one should be responsible about their belongings. We had initially thought of banning cell phones in CRC, but realised that then there would be no difference between IIT and other colleges. Here we respect the students’ ability to be responsible and make good decisions.
We ask him about his family and turns out that there’s an interesting story there too!
My brother and I are twins. My brother, who is 2 minutes older than me, is a B.Tech graduate. Physically, the only difference between us is the mole on my nose. I also have a sister who is married and settled. My father is a government servant and my mother is a housewife. Because of my hectic schedule, I don’t see them as much as I’d like to these days, but still, I feel really happy that I’m able to work hard for them.
We leave the interview with the realisation that no person around us is just what they appear to be. This was a man living his life to the fullest while fighting a world of impossibilities. And it is stories like these that we hope to uncover through this series.