the Ephemeral Me

Just like life - we appear, we disappear. So important to some; but for some, just passing by.

Personal blog. Tech blog here.

At the Door to a New Beginning

· in journal

Since too many memories are clogging my mind, this is not a well thought out piece about parting and graduating, this is just a compilation of thoughts that came about during the last few days.

What began as the fruit of some hard work and extreme luck, what came after a choice that decided the direction of my life (between medical or engineering - that’s all that’s available for a middle class average student), what started with me as a dumb, innocent and childish teenager, is now coming to an end. As it ends, I contemplate. The several dimensions of life here have left a trove of memories.

First, food, yes. Food didn’t come easily. We struggled to feed ourselves. Several things saved us by providing the occasional-slowly-turned-regular respite from the mess food. The grand dinners in the mess, the big fat slices of Ideals from 3rd/5th blocks, the sunday Masala Dosas, the gobi manchurians, the kheers, the rasnas and the paneer items. The (pseudo-)veg food from GNPD, the variety of alu paranthas from the NC, GBNC, GNPD and GPD, the lassi at Bittus, the lingering after-taste of pani puri after a satisfying streak of chats at Kailash, the cheap milkshakes at the cold house, the staring sulky I’ll-take-you-for-granted waiter at Suraj, the funny proprietor of SD (and NC (and the supplier at every meeting/seminar with free food)), the teetotaller’s gang eating fried rice at RR, the (pseudo-)unlimited buffets in Mangalore, the holy shrine called Pabbas, the weirdest remixed and still home-like food from Ram Bhavan, the mirage called Kebab Studio, the unexplored Froth on Top. So while the messes happily served humongous amounts of undercooked rice, the tasteless sambar-rasams, the painfully limited good sabzis and bulletproof rotis, awful breakfasts and extremely light evening snacks, nobody cared.

Travel proved to be the best drug. Treks to KP, Bandaje, numerous waterfalls around South Canara in the obscurity of western ghats, bus trips to nearly every tourist place, the insanely fast bike trip to Yana and the best ever beach trip to Gokarna. The getting lost at Bandaje, the missing train in Goa, the shivering cold of west-India and the bloody rain in KP. The unparalleled flatness of the Rann of Kutch, the remnants in the wilderness of Dholavira and the single majestic hill that stood in the middle of hundreds of kilometers of chest-deep saline water. The Sawai Gandharv and the Yamini. The food at Mysore’s homes, the lovely nostalgic lazy times in Goa’s home. The duo’s wandering to Bekal and wading the tides to reach Sasihitlu. The bathing in dirty backwaters at Pavanje, the journey on the side of the engine of a goods train through rainy hills to Doodhsagar, the exploring of Chennai and the fairs of Mangalore. The accompanying artists to schools and attending Conventions. Travel was that boost that would push us through semesters. Travel recharged our batteries as it drained our physiques and filled us with memories.

Friends fill as much the NITK life as water does a watermelon. Friends will constitute all the memories that define college life. When it is a hostel with not a very easy life, the bond multiplies in strength. With assignments and projects, scorching heat and incessant rains, block timings and warden whining, bad food and no water, surprise tests and relative grading, we found several reasons to bond. The thought of missing my friends frightens me.

I made all kinds of friends. The irritatingly nerdy kind, the elite sarcastic kind, the studious kind, the shy kind, the hardworking kind, the algorithm master kind, the silent yet scholarly kind, the chatter-y kind, the NID kind, the half naked around the varandah kind, the artistic kind, the matching wavelength partner-in-crime kind, the laughing rampage kind, the ladiesman kind, the directory-of-every-girl kind, the deceitful kind, the loving kind, the idol kind, the adventurous kind, the leader kind, the silent kind, the overly caring kind, the rude rowdy kind, the methodic perfectionist kind and so many more. Much to my surprise, I have realized every one of the friendships is worth treasuring. I will.

NITK has given me several things that are unique and bring a rush of feelings every time I remember them. The beautiful beach, the unforgiving rains, the villages around the campus, the unpredictable whether and towering lighthouse. Taking late evening strolls to the beach, early morning excursions on the railroad to reach Pavanje, getting on the terrace to watch the clouds build up while the lighthouse’s beam searched the edges of the horizon, passionately shouting in TV room and breaking furniture and shouting for and against teams, standing up with pride as India grabbed another world cup “for Sachin”, the parting of couples at 9:55, the follow-me-everywhere Snowy and the endless headbanging nights of Incident. The thursday evenings, the precious times with artists and the concerts by the greats.

The fun-filled and sometimes irritating eerie joblessness spanned our schedules like ether, dominating everything else, causing me to sometimes doubt the purpose of last 4 years. When I look back, I feel guilty sometimes. The most prominent of all guilts that plague my mind is serious: I didn’t learn anything. Yes. In the four years, 192 credits, hundreds of gruelling examinations and assignments and project (reports), I have learnt nearly nothing. Academics was full of compromises, last minute slog, lies, curses and incessant demands for “research and publication”. I came in to become an engineer. My curriculum focussed on anything but that. Teachers demanded research-y projects, indented, numbered, abstract-litreature survey-result-future work-references-ified reports, overnight submission to conferences, copied assignments, pointless examinations and 75% attendances. They came in to class to teach subjects in a way that made me cringe innumerable times. We doodled, whatsapped, Gangnam danced, dozed, ate, played and ogled in class. Labs, though, were marginally better, where I felt I was learning. Projects started with outlandish demands right from the beginning, and never ended. Placing a random number generator function with a probability of 74% and claiming a 74% result hurt my confidence more than I thought it would. (Oh and dont please get me started about corruption and inefficient administration and equal measure of indifference among students and administration.)

While the conclusion that education is secondary came right in the beginnings, I looked around for what else I could absorb from this cauldron of talent and diversity. It would be the greatest mistake to not learn anything after living as one among such a diverse talented set of people. And so I did, and did well in retrospect.

It’s all coming to an end. Now all that lies ahead of us is a future - one that’s full of opportunities along with confusion, one that holds as many doubts as hopes. I dont know what’s in it for me, but right now I dont have many regrets.

The no-due certificate that I hold in my hands now seems silly. I know I can never pay back everything that I owe to NITK.