7 Things I Liked About IITK...or not..

The name can give any technocrat a mini orgasm, the vastness of the campuss, the flora-fauna( peacocks and squirrels wherever you set your eyes on) can widen your eyes in awe, the cutting edge facilities can leave you rummage a thesaurus  for the want of a suitable adjective...but is Indian Institute of Technology worth it's blue-bloodedness?
Joining hands with many confused teenagers egged by the zeal of their over-expecting parents, I also had once spent a considerable part of my higher sec years preparing for IITJEE. Attending tuitions from 6 in the morning till 11 in the night, mugging up B.Sc level chemistry because of the foul-mouth chemistry teacher and his incorrigible habit of using expletives, to guessing random answers in the FIITJEE mock tests , I had done everything. I even had to sit for the grueling 6 hour test just a day before our Statistics boards exam (my deepest respect to the guys of West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education, and their ability to set exam dates.). But then I had mistakenly thought that it would end there only...
After 2 and a half comfortable years, the dormant Lucifer started rising his head once again. Once again I had a chance to give the most coveted technical instis of India another go.  The chance came much before I had expected. One of my connected professors offered me a chance to work in IIT, Kanpur...The glory of the place was too magnetic to me to say no.
I accepted the offer without thinking and even said yes to the fact that I won't be getting a hostel room and won't get paid even. So the starry-eyed me, basking in the glory of the name, landed in Kanpur, the hottest place on earth...OK..not earth, the hottest place I have ever been to.
6 weeks down the lane...I realized fully what gave the most popular author in India impetus to write his first novel. And so thought the writer in me (who takes the word procrastination to a whole new dimension), if 4 years in this hell hole can make him write a full-fledged novel, why can't 6 weeks fuel me to write a small blog post? So forgotten is the MATLAB code on which I busted my bums on, and the boring images of a drop sliding down a inclined plane, I start recalling about what kept me going for this 6 weeks and also the retarding forces.
1. You may call me a glutton, but foodie is a term I prefer. The breakfast at Hall 7 is one of the best things about this insti. Yup, you read right...I AM talking about hostel food. Priced at Rs. 15 (now Rs.20) you can have bournvita/cornflakes, fresh chana, toast butter jam/ special dish. This special dish can be  Dosa, Idli, Uttapam, sandwich,poha, parantha on different days...the catch is you get unlimited amount of this things for Rs. 20. Yup, a paradise for people who can eat loads, unlike me. I am all talk when is comes to food. The canteen dinner is good on most days...but inedible on others. I am sure that people from Manchuria will launch a attack on this place if they know what they produce in the name of Veg. Manchurian. Another notable thing is the stupendofabulous Chicken roast they make on Thursdays...mmmmm..will mis that in Kolkata.
2. If you are a feminist please skip this one, because the word girl-favoritism is like Zulu to you gals or guys. (duh!! there actually are male feminists.) If there was a death penalty for girl favoritism, then IITK would be almost empty, barring the two girls hostels and a few ascetic people like my friend Kaustav. You don't have to be beautiful or slutty or anything, you just have to be a girl here. And everyone focuses his attention on you. I will refer to a small a incident. One of my guides, he never met me the for the first two weeks, but when a girl intern came, he met her that very day, advised her on nitty gritties of research work, and fuck...she is also getting a accommodation and remuneration. I don't blame the girls for this, because the majority of girls doesn't take advantage of this by themselves (some sluts do), I blame the sicko attitude of the males who makes this possible.
3. The labs...yup, label me a geek or whatever, but the labs are something that caught my marvel...All sorts of computers, instruments, machine-tools you name it, they have it. They also have dedicated technicians who would make experimental set-ups on your behalf. This is "a luxury you get in IIT" as my guide told me. The collective cost of the instruments which I had been handling costs roundabout 10 lakhs...this fact alone made me handle them with utmost care. The worst part is people here never make full use of the facilities. The interferometric set- up I just talked about was used last in 2007. And now no one in the lab knows how to use it...My question is quite rhetorical. Why waste a fucking 10 lakh for a useless showpiece?? People don't get to eat here in this country.
4. The less I say about His Perfectness, the better. The accolade refers to my guide, who at one point of time told me " So what you are stuck? I have my own work and research, I can't GUIDE you." Then why did you accept me as an intern, eh? You could have said no very well and save me the pain. Nah...you had a better plan, to become a pain, sadist. I don't think the guy saw 3 Idiots. Otherwise he would have sued them. The character of Virus is totally based on him. Just because his recommendation can guarantee a seat in Stanford doesn't mean that you will treat everyone as scum, doesn't mean you will talk to a intern with you legs on the table.
5. The other interns..they are the guys I am really indebted to. Especially Mr. Kaustav Pradhan who allowed me to share his bed room with me.Without his quirky antics and an impeccable taste in food, I would have fled from this place. I am indebted to that fatso. All those nights spent sharing anecdotes of our lives, of going out and eating one full chicken each, of watching 2 movies back to back, of sleeping together in the 3 feet wide bed...friendship met brotherhood in Kanpur. It's the first time in many years I shared a room with anyone..I hope next time I can do it a girl, not any girl but a particularly crazy one who blogs here. Ram Vivek Kumar Sharma deserves a special mention for lending me his laptop almost every night and making us realize knowledge and brains doesn't matter much here. You only have to follow orders without a question and work hard on the job at hand (which being as tough as running a pre-written code and plotting the results.) He was really proud of his work and claimed this was a really challenging job and no one could have done it more efficiently than him. Anudeep, however is a real brilliant guy and we get along like a house on fire. Thanks buddy for letting me crash in the mattress in your room...thanks for introducing me to the "House MD" series..thanks for all the brilliant time we spent together discussing viscosity, movies and family...for that late night trip to Rave 3 where we ran out of money...thanks stranger, for being my friend.
6.Whoever said that Thar desert is the hottest place in India is wrong, it's Kanpur. To add to my perennial sufferings the place where stayed was in a state of perpetual power cut. All those sweaty sleepless nights, those sleep starved afternoons..those blistering afternoons when I had to step in the heat to grab some food from the comfortable AC lab...i curse you Kanpur heat, may the tundra lynch you someday. The only thought that kept me going was that people at Kolkata were also facing a similar kind of problem..sadism rocks.
7. I detest the sicko attitude this people have for summer interns. They call us here for summer projects and they never decide what project to give us beforehand. And when we come they feed us some bull which is never enough to keep us busy for 2 months. So we report to them , they feed us even more bull and they promise you that your work is really good and they are thinking of making it into a technical paper to be published in a renowned journal. But when you cram all the things you have worked on and submit the final report to them, they scowl and say "You haven't done anything new or important." Hello!! I wasn't given anything new and important to work on...I did what I was told to do. Got me on my nerves, oh they did.

However, I should point out that not everyone's experience was the same. One of my friends went to IIT Chennai, and she got loads of important stuff to do and got good lab mates. Sigh..I feel so green.
Looking back at those days, I realized the name of the insti never matters, the certificate for which I lived through hell for two months never matter...it's the people, it's always the people who makes a difference. It's just my dumb luck that I got associated with the worst kind possible in a educational institution...But still I gto my share of hostel life, I got the certi, made some very good friends...My heart tells my egomaniac brain to be satisfied with it.I am trying to listen, I am trying.


My First Crush

                                                                                                                                                                               She crash landed into my heart when it was pure and untainted, when it was alien to the enigma called love.
She was from our school, but from a different section. Our moms were friends, but we were mere batch mates who never exchanged anything more than a hello. Little did I know that one fine evening I would wake up from my comfortable afternoon siesta and find her in my bedroom. It was from that day everything changed...
Mom was almost shaking me in order to teleport me from the realm of dreams to the world of mundane mediocrity.
 “Your friend is here.”
“Whooo??Mom I wanna sleep.” I howled and thrashed around in the bed. Mom was habituated with this drill. But…
“Ankita is here. Wake up.”
I sat up at the speed of light. For one moment everything was hazy, and then I realized the T-shirt had moved up my body, revealing my paunch. I immediately sucked it in, tugging at the bottom of the T-shirt, and heard a giggle.
Holy #@$#$%@. I muttered an expletive I had learnt that day only; first she enters my room without permission and then she giggles at me. Some nerve she had.
I looked at my legs. Of all the half pants I had, I was wearing the shortest one. And I hated the hairs I had sprouted all over my legs recently. Thinking of hairs, I realized I was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt…
My ears turned red, first of the many times that day. I cursed my mom and her ignorance of the fact that her son had grown old enough to be eligible for some privacy. I felt so self conscious that couldn’t even say “Hi” as I stood in front of her. The pant material was too flimsy. It astonished me why I never gave it a thought before.
She broke the silence.
“I was going through your books. You have a nice collection, wow. May be you could lend me some.”
My possessiveness made me hate lending books, but I couldn’t tell her that. I couldn’t meet her eyes even. I shrugged and  tried to clear my desk. She had come to get some extra help in physical science from my father. And the last thing I wanted was to get rebuked in front of her for a untidy table.
Did she see my paunch? Did she laugh at my tantrum? Can she see that my ears are red?
I checked her out from the corner of my eyes. By that time I had some misplaced sense about the word ‘sexy’ , but was couldn’t decide whether she was sexy or not. May be I should consult my friends before deciding. She was in a salwar kameez, now that was a minus. A sexy girl should wear jeans. But she had short hair and a pretty thin figure, that was a plus. But I was still nonplussed about her sexiness.
“Why did you laugh?” I heard a voice blurting out. Off late I was a having a problem recognizing my own voice. It had turned gruff all of a sudden. I liked it though.
“Because I saw this.” She pointed to a book with red cover which I had secured beneath a bunch of old magazines, stifling a smile. She looked cute when she smiled. Not that I knew when exactly you can call a girl cute. But I heard one of my friends say that his girlfriend looks cute when she smiles. So I also had to use the word.
I face ashened I shifted my glance from her smile to the book.
Oh hell…she has seen the book I rented from Golpark yesterday“The Sands of Time” by Sidney Sheldon.  His books were a hit among us because of the strong sexual content.
Does she think that I am bad boy?? At least she didn’t laugh at my under covered body. But did she notice my paunch? I sucked in even harder. I don’t know where this impulse came from, but I wanted to impress her.
“Where did you get it from? My mom doesn’t allow me to read these books. But I want to. Can you lend it to me?”
There was this mole near her throat. It moved up n down as she spoke…I couldn’t answer her question, That place, where I rented books from was infamous for some other stuff too. Arka (my best buddy) said you can get magazines which had pictures of naked women in them.  One of the boys of his class got caught with such a book last week only.
She was from the same section as Arka. She would never talk to me if she knew I visited that store. But why the hell she wanted to read it?? Girls aren't into this kind of adult stuff, are they?  
I thought hard about whether I would lend it to her or not, but was saved from reaching any decision by my father.
We sat in the study table. Dad immediately led us to a voyage amidst the sea of gravity, magnets and light beams that travelled in straight lines. But when you have your dad as the captain, you knew the waters like the back of your hand. So I decided to concentrate on Ankita. She was gulping down everything dad said with utmost seriousness.
Darn…Why is my dad so handsome???
Her face was smooth and thin, her eyes magnetic…I almost asked dad if eyes were also magnetic materials, like iron. But I didn't want to look stupid in front of her. She was one of the top 5 students of her section, while I hovered on the boundary of twenties. I wanted to give her an impression that I was a good student also.
I was busy examining the motion of the mole on her throat, when Dad asked her a question…the mole didn’t move for a few seconds. She didn’t know the answer. I smiled and took my chance to gloat.
“It is 9.81 m/s.“
She looked at me in the eyes sharply. I realized that she knew the answer. She just hesitated to tell it…it was the first time our eyes met. There was something in her gaze, something strange in the expression of her  pale face, that made my ears turn red again.
I lowered my eyes…my mind strangely vacant, my heart thumping faster than ever, there were goose bumps on my hands, a strange cold feeling down my neck which I could relate to the times when results were declared…
It was then, while studying the laws of falling bodies, I myself had fallen into a unknown territory…there were no laws which explain my fall…there were no Galileos or Newtons who studied it…there were thousands of book written on it, but each defined it in a different way…
I was then, I first experienced love.
She wasn’t the most beautiful girl of our batch, she was just another gawky teenager like yours truly was at that time. But to me she seemed to grow more beautiful with each passing second and  I grew more and more shy of her. Suddenly after that one day taking my eyes off  became difficult, not to think about her, impossible.
I went to her section regularly, as Arka studied in that section. The frequency increased after that day. I never talked to her on my own…she made my day by her cursory greetings and occasional chats.
She had forgotten to take the book with her. I wished she would. May be we could have a proper conversation then. So I carried it with me to school for two weeks. The shopkeeper charged Rs. 20 for each week, so I had to save money by but not having food at the canteen. But not for once did I mind staying hungry because of her.  It would look bad if she asked for the book and I couldn’t give it to her…
But she never asked.

One day Arka called me to share some trivia about the fifth Harry Potter book which he had dug out.I almost crashed into her as she almost ran out the class…she seemed to be super excited about something.
Her breathless “Hi” was pure melody that caressed my eardrums, her fleeting glance bliss for my eyes and specs combo...
Despite being a Harry Potter fanatic, I hardly paid heed as Arka discussed who would die in the next book. She did that to me, yeah, somehow she gobbled up my entire attention.
Suddenly I heard her name from the bench behind us…Come teenage and gossiping is one of the many things which girls develop. I strained my ears.
“…proposed to Ankita. He is that handsome guy from class 9, you know. He has Mechanics as additional subject so he is really good at studies. She went to meet him now. “
My heart wasn’t ready for this…it never asked for this at such a tender age…the shock was too rude for it. I went into a shell which everyone took to be common teenage behavior…I hated the sight of her, shouted with mom when I heard she would be coming again to my home, and made it a point not be in the house that time…Day in day out, my heart bled for her. I considered her a betrayer…my entire existence wanted to hurt the Class 9 Mechanics additional lover-boy so hard that he won’t look at her again…but he was a senior, I couldn’t do that. All I could do was cry my heart out at nights…I had no one to confide my feelings to, no one to guide me.
I realized what being a teenager really meant.
Time washed her away from my life…in a few weeks, how many I don’t remember, but she became history. That’s how crushes are, no?
 I had crushes on several more girls, and not to brag or anything but I can’t rule out the possibility of some girls having a crush on me, now that I had lost my paunch and shyness with age and mastered the art of friendly flirting. I got myself landed into some short term relations even. Ankita remained happily forgotten, or may be a fleeting memory. She changed to the afternoon session from class 8.And I never met her in the remaining four years.
It was after I had left school, I started using Facebook. I had never been into social networking before, but now as the school emblem disappeared from our chests…I had to opt for it to keep in touch with friends. It soon became an addiction. Hours of post exam indolence were spent checking out one profile or the other and chatting. In was about that time…I got a friend request from Ankita Ganguly.
“Hey r u that shy Ananyo who once studied in 7 E morn?”
I smiled. I couldn't find a trace of the gawky teenager in her…she looked gorgeous in an orange salwar, smiling ear to ear from her display picture. The faded memories wafted back into my mind…and I laughed at my immaturity. Such a stupid kid I was…I didn’t even talk to her properly.
I checked her profile and regretted for not being friends with her in school. Our choices were same to same. We would have made great friends. My be it was time to try my luck...
I left her a cheesy message in reply.
“ Yup I am Ananyo, who once studied in 7 E morn…but about the shy part I am not quite sure, why don’t you check that out over a cuppa coffee?”
This entry is written for the Blogadda contest My First Crush organized in association with Pringoo.com. (click image on top for details.).
P.S This post is dedicated to Ananya...the lady of my life. I have taken the liberty to base the character of Ankita on her. For more on Ankita and Ananyo, check this.

Forever after...