Through the Goggles of a (Muggu) Wing: Alak B3

For a time, three years for some of us, four years for the others, we occupied half the rooms in Alakananda’s B3 wing. We spent more time in each other’s rooms and in the corridor than we did in our own respective rooms. Who’s ‘we’? Have a look at the photo below. You might know some of us, and one of us (Aditya) was even the Student’s General Secretary. To our classmates and a lot of the people who knew us, we were the ‘Muggu Wing’, a moniker that we weren’t particularly fond of in the beginning but soon began to cherish.


The Alak B3 Hall of Fame
Manjunath Armugam, fondly known as ‘Bog Manju’, graduated with a B.Tech. in Computer Science in 2014. He now works at Amazon India.
Sandeep Badrinath, also known as Bandeep, graduated with a Dual Degree in Aerospace Engineering in 2015. He is going to pursue a Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Abhiram HK graduated with a B.Tech. in Aerospace Engineering in 2015. He now works at Analytics Quotient in Bangalore.
Suhas Suresha, often called ‘Susi’, graduated with a Dual Degree in Aerospace Engineering in 2015. He is off to pursue an M.S. in Computational and Applied Mathematics at Stanford University.
Abhiram Ravi, occasionally referred to as ‘Striker’, graduated with a Dual Degree in Computer Science in 2015. Our budding Sundar Pichai, he’s joining Google headquarters at Mountain View, California.
Karthik Abinav, popularly known as ‘Piney’, graduated with a B.Tech in Computer Science in 2014. He is now pursuing a Ph.D. in theoretical computer science at the University of Maryland at College Park.
Aditya Bharadwaj, only known to the rest of the world as 2C or ‘That’ Gen Sec, graduated with a Dual Degree in Electrical Engineering in 2015. He is now working at Auctus Advisors.
Prateek Kolhar, popular as ‘T-man’ or the guy responsible for starting finance and analytics clubs in insti, graduated with a Dual Degree in Electrical Engineering in 2015. He is now working at Goldman Sachs.
Manish Heda Ghisulal, the God of sleep, zen and all that is peaceful, graduated with a Dual Degree in Electrical Engineering in 2015. He has cast his lot in with the Masters of the Universe at Goldman Sachs.
Vishakh Hegde, also known as ‘Shocky’ and our resident godfather of atrocious jokes, graduated with a Dual Degree in Physics in 2015. He is joining Stanford University for an M.S. in Computational and Applied Mathematics.
Ranjit Nair, mostly known as Djem, graduated with a B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering in 2014. He is preparing for the Civil Services Examinations in Delhi.
Arjun Bhagoji, also known as ‘Bhago’, ‘The Red Indian’ and ‘Petro-gel’, graduated with a Dual Degree in Electrical Engineering in 2015. He is off to pursue a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University.
Alfred Ajay Aureate Rajkumar, the other God of sleep, zen and all that is peaceful, graduated with a Dual Degree in Electrical Engineering in 2015. He is now at Flipkart.
Nitin ‘Chubby’ Prasad, the owner of the most frequented room in the wing, graduated with a B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering in 2015. He is pursuing a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.
Pranay Kumar Reddy, the Ritchie Street of Alak B3, graduated with a Dual Degree in Physics in 2015. He is now working at Ola cabs.
Anwesh Pokkuluri, the political godfather of Insti, graduated with a B.Tech. in Engineering Physics in 2014. He is now working at EXL Service in Bangalore.

In what follows, we share with you some of the things we remember best from our time as a wing here. It’s very likely that if the names and details are changed slightly, you have similar stories (if you’ve graduated) or you will have by the time you leave insti (in case you’re still lucky enough to be in IITM). 


One of the early things in insti that fascinated us was the rat-race for positions of responsibility, mostly associated with Shaastra or Saarang. At one point during our second year, we were so scarred after an ACM that we started and marketed our own fest called Satrang, a parody of Saarang (with the tagline ‘Saarang can wait’). We worked all the details out, including the finance core, proshow core, cul-sec, design core and the likes. With events like “Dodge the deer, beat the monkeys” and a proshow from the famous Taramani temple megaphone, the fest looked very promising. And finally, we also had a Satrang team photoshoot, with our mascot being the monkey-proof dustbin!


Fires and some slapstick


The funniest things in life are often associated with near-tragedies (well, this wasn’t exactly a tragedy, but then, pseud-putting is in our blood!). Suhas was hanging out with a friend in his room when he saw that a tree outside his room corridor had caught up fire and was burning. He panicked and started shouting, which alerted everyone in our wing. We immediately started collecting water in buckets from the bathroom and splashing water to put out the fire. During this process, Prateek, with a great deal of enthusiasm, lifted a bucket full of water to splash on the tree when Abhiram thought that helping Prateek by giving a nudge to the back of the bucket would be a brilliant idea. However, it turned out that it wasn’t such a brilliant idea after all. As soon as Abhiram nudged the bucket, it toppled and Prateek got an impromptu bath. All of us burst out laughing so hard that we forgot that the tree was still on fire. This incident is still a source of great merriment for most of us.


Cuttlers of Satan

Playing cards and board games like Settlers of Catan and Scrabble was a lot of fun, especially before quizzes and end-sems (see, we are not so muggu after all). We hung out in Manish’s room (our peace palace) whenever we felt stressed out and while playing these games, discussed each other’s life sagas over some awesome snacks and music. During these game hours, we tended to completely forget about assignments and quizzes and come out feeling happy and refreshed. We also played a lot of PC games like FIFA and Call of Duty during the first two years. At one point of time during the second semester, we were so addicted to Call of Duty that if the LAN cut hadn’t been enforced (like it isn’t presently), we would all have failed that semester. Wolf and Literature were other games that we played a lot too. At one stage, we all got so serious while playing Wolf  that once Suhas nearly threw a bucket at Sake (from the opposite wing) as Suhas thought he was cheating! (And then we decided not to play Wolf for some time.)


Double cheese Margherita Cheese burst with extra cheese + cheese dip



We used to have movie-marathons in Bhagoji’s room on weekends, where we watched  highly rated movies on Imdb as well as the silly comedy ones, while eating cheese-burst pizzas from Dominos and hugely unhealthy burgers from Pupil (no eating in the mess on weekend nights). Even on weekdays, when we got bored of mess food (we often did, especially once we had our stipends in fifth year), we would order something or the other (ranging from Andhra Mess meals and biriyanis and Subway sandwiches to the usual Dominos pizzas) and rewatch “Friends” episodes as Chandler made us choke on our food for the umpteenth time.


The wing that studies together, stays together

From helping each other with workshop assignments to reviewing each other’s applications, for universities and placements, we’ve spent a lot of time studying and working together as well. Many times, we would deal with panic before quizzes by standing around in Chubby’s room and patting our chests as we kept saying ‘Aal is well, Aal is well’. We helped each other figure out what we wanted to do after college (not that we have figured out the meaning of life; we are working on it) and never missed deadlines because we shared a lot of things with each other and someone invariably reminded us to get things done.


Poor jokes make the hardest courses bearable. For all of us from EE, Analog Circuits, we’re looking at you! We complained, raged, laughed and cried our way through our courses together. We would even get up early to teach one another and make sure no one missed out anything, sometimes even packing what we had left to study ourselves. Dealing with stress was easy; we would just go to Ajay’s or Manish’s room and come out completely refreshed.


When you’re in a peer group whose interests are diverse, the fact that the knowledge you’ve gained until now is next to nothing becomes a lot more apparent. In our humble attempt to make each other aware of interesting facts, concepts and developments across fields, we  also took a small initiative. We set up a blackboard in the wing corridor. At any point of time, if we ever found something interesting to share, we would put it up on the board. A lot of interesting knowledge was exchanged in the process, including spurts of brilliant creative artwork by T-Man, mostly PG-13 and above.


Sports in the Muggu Wing

Being a “muggu” wing, the last thing people usually associated us with was sports. During our third year, there was this inter wing cricket tournament within the hostel. Every half-wing formed a team, and every match had six players a side. We signed up for the tournament without knowing how good we really were. We did have one good player in the form of Manish and another fairly regular player in the form of Abhiram H. K. Other than that, most of us could be called amateurs. The first match was revelatory. Our opponents were extremely complacent — after all, they were playing the “muggu” wing who probably would crumble down. We ended up thrashing the opponent and winning the match with a huge margin. This gave us a huge confidence boost, and more importantly, made other teams take us seriously through the tournament. Throughout the tournament, it was good teamwork and efficient use of limited skills that made us tick. Coming in as underdogs, we ended up reaching the finals of this tournament. In the finals, of course, we were beaten hands down by the best half-wing (half the team consisted of people who played for the Alak hostel team). It was fun nonetheless and brought out another side of us which we didn’t know we had.


Gen Sec from a Muggu wing?

Some of us from the wing

In general, one would never associate ‘muggu’ and ‘elections’ with each other. Neither did we, until Aditya decided to contest for the post of SGS in our fourth year. Together, we worked out an unconventional manifesto (of course, in LaTeX) and helped him through the election campaign. Listening to students’ opinions and comments to the proposals was a great learning experience in itself. We learnt that, by being an integral part of an election campaign, one can broaden his or her perspectives about issues in insti.



Since a trip to Tada wasn’t enough, we decided to go trekking in the Himalayas in our 4th year. The moment we finished booking the tickets, we were all very excited and T-man (Prateek) was so happy that he started dancing and singing his favourite Taramani temple songs (some of you unlucky enough to be in hostels near Tarams might know how these go: Nama Sivaaya, nama sivaya, om nama sivaya… ad infinitum). We had some amazing (and some incredibly scary!) experiences on the trek. Getting rid of an army of caterpillars in the tent at night, singing the Kolaveri Di song completely out of tune and making fools of ourselves in front of the rest of the trekkers, rock-climbing and rappelling in the mountains, playing cricket in a beautiful grassy meadow surrounded by snowy mountains at 12,000 ft., waking up at 3 am in the night to see the Milky Way galaxy in the sky, getting drenched in the rain in a speedy road-trip in the back of an open truck on the curvy mountain roads, crossing dangerous bridges and glaciers in the middle of forests, chanting motivational (and often insulting) slogans to encourage each other as we walked, chasing away rats from eating our chocolates, the list goes on and on; we just had an unimaginably great time on this trek.




Perhaps the most interesting (and scary!) part of the Himalayan trek came on the penultimate day. We had to walk on some dangerously slippery snow for almost 10 hours, and there were heavy hailstorms and rain which made our  journey even more difficult. The place where we had to cross the Chanderkhani pass was the most mindblowing; the snow-clad mountains were almost vertical and there was a small path in the mountains just wide enough for one person to walk. If we were to slip and slide, we would have gone tumbling down the mountainside. The snow was extremely slippery and our vision was blurred due to a heavy hailstorm. We were all in a line, one behind the other and started chanting “Heel! Heel!” as a reminder that we had to stick our heels in the snow to walk without slipping. The chant was like a prayer to God to get us through this and helped those of us who were scared to death remain calm. After safely crossing it, all we could think of that day were hot cheese burst pizzas from Dominos (we gorged on them once we came back from the trek, and they’ve never tasted better).


The trek brought all of us closer than ever and created a bond that will last forever. Going trekking in the Himalayas with your wingmates is one of the best ways to bring your time together in insti to a close, since you can’t do anything but talk to each other for a break, swapping old stories and creating new memories. So, the Muggu Wing recommends a dangerous and uncomfortable Himalayan trek to all of you.


Signing off…


IIT Madras changed us all collectively. The JEE taught us what we’re capable of as individuals. IIT took it a step further and taught us what we’re capable of as a team. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you put a group of smart and motivated people together. If we hadn’t been in the particular wing that we happened to end up in or if we had been in different classes, many of us would have been different people. Our personalities and mental make-ups are linear superpositions of each other, in some sense.
Some things at IITM were easy, others were hard. But the hardest thing of all was leaving. We couldn’t gather the nerve to actually say goodbye, so we made this video to remind us of our days in insti and to allow us to relive at least a pale imitation of those moments. Nothing left to say now except, thank you and see you again, IIT Madras!