Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Tipping Point – Part 2

In the first of what I would now term a series of posts, I forayed into the basal reasons of why freshers lose enthusiasm when they come to IIT Madras. My thesis was that the primary reason for the poor performance was not LAN as was assumed by the senate but it was largely to do with the position of fans in the Classroom Complex(CRC).

It did lead to quite a response in a couple of social networking sites, healthy discussions in Google Plus with a professor and a more trite, bordering on savage discussion on the Colloqium Page in Facebook which unsurprisingly took a turn towards questioning the parentage of some of the moderators. I observed a couple of days back that it was the most viewed post in my blog and realized that the administration has actually taken steps to install an air-conditioner in CRC. So, I will be bold enough to claim that _MY_ blog made the administration to take notice of the plight of the students and do the needful.  So with this momentum behind me and the associated self-pluming which comes with maintaining a successful blog, I will now selflessly, with all my expertise, delve into what I think is the second major reason freshers are the way they are and hopefully something will be done about it.

To go further into this analysis, I first ought to apprise you of two kinds of torture. One, the humane way. Pull out a tooth, piss on a stove kind of torture. It is over before you know it. The second, the route taken by those bereft of either civilization or civility. Like a HS department English exam where you write furiously in no more than 5000 words what Wordsworth thought the difference between white and yellow daffodils were. Or Analog Circuits Exam where you stare at the question paper for three hours hoping that by divine intervention you can make sense of the question. The slow, painful, repetitive, time-has-come-to-a-stop kind of torture.

Belonging to the subset of the second kind of torture is the one laid down sometime in 1960s, when hostels were being built. Every morning, thousands of kids are loath to open their eyes afraid that they have to face this cruel, brutal and unrelenting beast, a beast more savage than grumkins and goblins, just the image of which would turn men into weeping crybabies. This structure built by a man long-lost in living memory and cursed by all and sundry ever since, is akin to the great sphinx of yore. It challenges you to a battle which ought to be won before it lets you pass to your destination. It is not an easy task to defeat this beast. Every day, many fall prey to it and surrender, only to face it again the next day. It is not the difficulty in traversing it that gives it the power but the constancy, the knowledge that it is there everyday unfailingly, a grim reminder of the eternal struggle to be faced before you can enter the hallowed portals of your department. I introduce to you, gentle reader, with a hint of trepidation, the monster – the upward slope from Gurunath to Cauvery hostel.

This two-hundred-metre-long monster continues to be the bane of all freshers who foolishly, being in the green of their youth try to tackle the monster armed with nothing but a newly procured creaking cycles sold by BSA at a discount(only to IITians, mind it). After a couple of months, the comfortable bed under the mild breeze of a fan becomes more seducing than the classes on the other end of the battle, and all the enthusiasm present withers down like leaves on the onset of winter. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the biggest tragedy plaguing the institute now.

Hopefully, the administration will take suitable measures to level the ground and destroy this monster. I will keep my fingers crossed. Till then, the institute bus will be my saviour.


A few days back, I was walking back with Umashankar… For the uninitiated, we have been classmates since 8th standard, with a common interest in mathematics and disdain towards Sanskrit, Biology and those girls(and Twister) who used to top in all the innumerable monthly tests, drawing us together. Anyway, I was walking back with Umashankar from lab to the hostel, after the mandatory midnight “konjum-strong-coffee” at Tifanys and invariably the topic of school came up.

It is interesting to note that there exists a finite set of “incidents” which have happened at school and everytime we meet, we laugh our asses off, remembering them. Everytime it is the same set of incidents. Narrated in the same style. Still it somehow seems to be funny. Always. I can recite these incidents while sleeping or dangling from a helicopter or facing a gun or all the three simultaneously and still laugh like a maniac. Let me recount one of them. We had to submit a “letter to father” in Kannada as a homework assignment. You know those fake letters in a format which no one uses. Respected-Father-How-are-you?-I-am-doing-well-How-is-mother?-Convey-my-regards-blah-blah-blah. Mundane, uninteresting stuff. My school used to start at 11:30 AM. So, I used to leave my house at 9:30 and reach school by 9:45. One of the muggu junta would turn up around 10. I, shamelessly copied the homework till the classes started. Considering that 90% of the class were copying the notes which other 10% wrote, it was a very efficient process and by the time class started everyone was done with the homework. Perfectly co-operative game. But, these things had its own drawbacks. On this particular occassion, I took the book and copied down the letter-to-father “makki-ka-makki” style. Lots of people copied from the same book. We all go smiling to the class and submit it. Next day, the teacher storms into the class seething with anger and asks, “How many kids has this…this Garudadwajan fathered? Apparently 40 out of you, 50 idiots.”

Oh, the way we laughed. I am surprised the roof didn’t fall on us that day. I miss it. I wonder how many of these incidents, I can take away from my past five years here. Quite a few, I think. An addition to these finite set of “incidents” happened two days ago. 🙂