Year End Flashback: Ode to EdBd

Edit: Yeah, it’s not really an ode; but exalted emotions follow, minus the lyric/poetry.

We have this saying in the Editorial Board: this yearbook is a culmination of countless hours of lost sleep, missed meals, cancelled dates, arguments, heart breaks and friends lost over time.

It took us 7 arduous months to get the writers to churn out the very best they could produce, and then get the artists to illustrate them by wringing out every last bit of creativity they have, and then get the photographers to painstakingly arrange for photo shoots managing 2000 people, and the database to sort and name them, and the designers to put it all on 502 pages, individually, from scratch.
(By now we can literally tell you what font we used on which page, from memory).

..and of course, then comes the huge set of fiascos for which we have a separate folder called “Fuck Ups”, to which we attend to, to make sure the yearbook is wrinkle free.

There was never any hype about the yearbook. People know of our existence only a couple of times over a year. We are this official body tucked somewhere in AB1, that makes the yearbook. Then why do we work so hard, day and night?
It is because, we feel it’s a good idea to gift the outgoing batch a chunk of their best memories in college, well documented on paper. With the hope that some day when we graduate, someone will do the same for us.

I’ll be very honest, some nights were nothing short of a nightmare working at the Editorial Board (EdBd). I particularly remember this period of two weeks, when I my grades were falling, was burdened with work from people and clubs, and was heartbroken due to a major personal crisis. I was broken, emotionally, physically, and mentally; all at once. I cried my eyes out; twice, accidentally deleted 2 GBs of work, and once ditched the team because it was all too much to deal with.

I never thought I could last this whole phase.
But here I am, with an awkward smile, half shrugging, but fully overwhelmed by the moment, collecting the yearbook from Shenoy sir.
Why? Because the EdBd – no, more specifically – this little coterie of the Night Team, held each other up at the worst of times.

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Among the other aforementioned things, this yearbook is also a culmination of moments of joy, lessons learnt and more than just a few strokes of individual genius from all of us.
I don’t think any club can give you memories/adventures like the ones we had in our tiny little room in the Student Activity Centre, mainly after midnight.
(It’s an unpoken requirement of the EdBd really, to be nocturnal).

And yes, I’ve probably have had more all night perms than any of you! Perks of being in EdBd.

This yearbook? It’s our baby.
Despite it’s (minor or major, whatever) flaws, it’s beautiful.

It is Taabiir, it is the interpretation of our dreams.
..and that’s the end of this chapter :)

PS: I kept this rather short because I have too many individual memories to narrate them all here :P

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Year End Flashback: My class

Section N - Copy

As I walked into NLH 205 for the first time, all eyes turned on me; as they would have for anyone else. We were 80 strangers, assembled into one section, that was about to bind us all together for the next ten months.

Section N was formed. And with was born a few blank pages in all of our stories, that the class would fill with memories, together.

I remember, it was Rakesh Reddy that I first interacted with. First day was great! Our first ever class in college was cancelled, due to Prof. Giridhar Kini being a busy man. Next we had PSUC, and oh the horror. He stood as a live testimonial to the dread people have towards the CSE faculty in the college.

The first week was all about random socializing. Yet, a few in the section were guilty of not knowing everyone’s name. We reaaallly took a long time to actually open up, and go beyond being acquaintances. We failed to organize a class party for the first sem.

Second semester was much more happening. Groups started getting formed and people became friends. And funnily, the same people I hardly got along earlier, were suddenly my friends. SKD, specially you!

Our class got an amazing set of professors over both semesters; well, except for a couple of specimen. You know who I’m talking about :P

Over the first sem, we lost the basketball tournament, the Inter-Section debate and in second sem, cricket and football. Basically, we have never won anything as a class. We are the quietest class, we aren’t the loudest. Neither the calmest not the wildest. Not too many 9 pointers, but not one person with a back. We are just there, somewhere at the peak of the bell curve. We are kinda like the vanilla flavoured section of the 24 sections that we have.

But…

We have the maximum contribution to the WC of IE CSE, with 8. We have a CR (along with Srijan) who regularly wins accolades in theatre. We have a set of brilliant coders, one of which almost won the WCS, we have artists, we have people in FM, RM, RnC, Project Manas (that too in AI) and we have the best designer in first year xD

I think we have crazy talent here but most of all I think my class is made of nice people who will help each other out in need. Our individualism is our key.

AND we’ve had some great memories too! I think those blank pages I talked about? They have been filled well :)

And I made some really good friends here! Ronald, Srijan, Udbhav, Mitra. Then my EEE brother Pranav. The Ted-Talk squad with Harshit, Pranjul and Samarth. And Pramod and Prajjwal. And my cure for the itch for slightly deeper and meaningful conversations, Aditi (you’re a saviour).

So yeah, that’s my section for you. I’ve said this once, and I’ll say this again:

Together we are strong. Individually we are mighty.

PS: Over the last one month I’ve tried to converse with as many people in the class as I could. If you think we still haven’t had a decent convo yet, please feel free :)

Down the memory lane: Semester One

Last week of July was a period of anticipation and uncertainty. Meticulously packing my bags and picking out the stuff I would need was a tough job. The difficulty lied in choosing what not to take. The stuff you won’t need in your life almost ever again. So I left all my IIT JEE books alone, not sparing them another glance. I was hurt over not getting into IIT, but little did I know what adventure awaited me in Manipal.

It was a 32 hour train ride along the idyllic landscape of the Konkan Coast, dotted by lakes, striated by streams, all sandwiched between clear blue skies and lush green meadow. At the end of the ride was a town we reached at around 8 in the night. It looked like a quaint old town with little activity but that just Udupi. As we entered Manipal we realised how active the university campus was.

After some confusion, I checked into my room in 18th Block, which was about to become my new home for the next few months. My room had the perfect location. More on that later. That night I didn’t bother unpacking. Because a part of me didn’t want to be there, that was reluctant to accept the failure of not being in another part of the country, in another college. I was in denial. This lasted a month btw.

Before a week could pass, before my mom could even leave after helping me settle, I broke down twice, started hating my surroundings, the place, the weather, the terrain, the food (though I am sure I’m not the only one)…everything.

But then mom left, with the hope that I’ll reinvent myself. Be what I actually was before IIT JEE happened. A winner, in all aspects of life.

By that time I got to know my class (at least a fraction), and all my teachers. My teachers were good except one. And he happened to teach my favourite subject (not taking names here). Over the semester the whole class got into a cold war with him, with certain people having regular skirmishes with him. To be honest, he had personal vendettas. But that was all. All other things, faculty related were A-OK. Class mates took a really long time to open up but they are all chill folks. All of them.

Oreo shakes, and Jack Shack burgers (Spicy Chicken, for me) and Sunday morning dosas were suddenly the new black, and End Point/Malpe/Kapu our new Goa. This interval, of the first month was marked by meeting myriad number of people and asking them their names, branches, sections only to forget it 7 seconds later.

Then the talent evenings happened, where we realised what talent lay within our own classes. Not my section though. There was but one performer from my section which was a bummer. We gave him a standing ovation in class for being the only representative from our class. From raps to break dance, from guitars to violins, from poets to photographers, we saw it all. People were really talented. During that time the favourite conversation starters for guys to use on girls was “Hey I saw you perform and you were good.” Just saaayyiiing.

Fast forward to the middle of the semester, right after the first sessional exams were over. Everyone was going back home for a week. I was not ready to go back home, didn’t feel like going, whatever. But that was a great time, because during that time I interacted with Ronald, and Srijan; two classmates I never spoke to before and we became really good friends, and we did stuff together, and still do! We went to Delta Point, which is the quietest beach around and had hella fun.

Then the Ed Board happened. And something tells me, I shouldn’t speak much about it now, because there’s a greater adventure that’s in store for me. But let’s just say, it’s one place where I feel at home. Really, some of  the best people/seniors I know are right there, in one room: the Ed Board room.

I kept myself busy with designing, and learning stuff because really, I was alone there. I committed myself to the routine: wake up, class, lunch, lab, home, sleep, study, read, dinner at 8:15, back home, study some more or play and sleep again. Repeat. Weekends were non-happening. Evenings were dull.

But then my squad started forming. And I made a conscious effort to bring everyone together. Squad one was a table of four with me being the only non-CSE person, but Proms, DK Bose senpai, and Benarasi babu (they know who are) are really cool people. Our convo was mainly about languages, and anime and movies and trying to solve the mystery of Proms’ ancestral roots, whether he is Konkani or Marathi or what. Till date, we don’t know. All four of us are hardcore foodies. So we all clicked.  Squad two is Ronald, his Don Juan roommate Ambarish, and “I’ve done it all” Srijan. Classy af people. CLASSY AF.

Somewhere between that routine of waking up early, arduous hours in the academic block and grueling labs, food that makes you homesick, being homesick, the post midnight hostel-mates’ discussion about everything that mattered (we’re talking stuff like Flash/Arrow, music, ‘stuff’, women and CS 1.6), the mad rush to complete the assignments, parties at Remix, biriyani from Dollops, breathtaking sunsets, heart breaks, battles won and lost, Manipal had succeeded.

I had fallen in love with the place, the college, and I had fallen in love with life.

The Ball

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Every one has those mid-semester crises in their first semester in college, right?

No, they don’t?

*shrugs* Well, I did. As a person whose social life is a wreck eight days a week, I was bound to.
So midway through the semester when I had lost all the new friends that I made in college -an act that I pull off with such ease, it’s insane-, and when my old friends stopped giving a damn, it was quite a difficult time. On one side I was trying to come to terms with the past failures, and on the other I had to prepare for the future (read: weekly assignments that I couldn’t afford to falter over), leaving me no time to live the present day. So I couldn’t resume learning Spanish, coding in Python, or read all the novels I had made a list of or explore poetry and psychology more. I couldn’t even delve deeper into electrical circuits because it wasn’t directly aligned with my curriculum.

“Gather ye rosebuds, while ye may.” O captain, my captain, with the greatest grief I must break to you that it is easier said that done.

I was dealing with a personality meltdown, lost skills, impaired creativity, and to top it all up, I had NO one to talk to about this.
Or maybe no one could deal with melancholy as profuse as though straight out of an Anton Chekov work.

Except a tennis ball.

Alone in my room, I would throw it at the wall, and catch it. Throw, rebound, catch, repeat. It started with nonchalance, but every passing day I realised it was the only stress release I have. I started doing 100 catches a day.

Then, a 100 catch with each hand. Then before I knew it, 500. I did that one thing so many times, I could catch the ball in the dark, with one hand easily. I knew where it was coming from by its very sound. And every time I threw the ball, my mind got flushed clean of all thoughts whatsoever. I liked that.

I was an escapist back then, after all.

I would throw the ball really hard at the wall. You can’t hit what you can’t see, right? I would imagine the wall to be all my problems in life and I would throw it hard and repeat without keeping count and just go on till both my arms stung with pain and gave up. But some mystical form of rage – all self directed – kept my arms going. The ball was resilient, and the wall understood me well enough to not give in any time soon.

It’s usually my heart that gave up first, urging me to make peace with all my alter egos. Specially the one that I branded a failure, for life. Look, the problem was always me, myself.

One day I decided, that I’ll do just that. Make peace with myself. Around that time I met an amazing girl in my class who once mentioned while we were having coffee after class and when I had to leave early, that she’d be just fine being on her own because she can manage being alone.

It hit me and I asked myself as to why I am so scared of being alone. Maybe being alone is never a problem; being lonely is.

The idea is to accept everything you’ve done, everything that you are. All your successes, failures, insecurities, regrets, your pride, your reason for existence, your desires, your motivation, your aspirations however crazy they may be.

Because, it’s ludicrously simple. If you don’t enjoy your company, why would anyone else? And I was surprised how easy it can be to get started, to enjoy life on your own.

It’s been two months since I’ve started owning my life. Right now academics are in absolute control, which I owe to a sense of perfectionism I strive to inculcate within myself. Social life’s started looking better. And I am reading up stuff I always wanted to.

Now when I throw the ball at the wall, I do drop a few catches :)

I still enjoy the exercise, nonetheless.

Ctrl+A, Delete.

Are you one of those who feel it’s one arduous task to write? Not because your mind is devoid of ideas, au contraire your mind is brimming with ideas. Now you won’t be immodest enough to go to the extent of calling each idea a brilliant one, but each deserves to find its ink-equivalent meet the paper. Or the Notepad on your laptop, if that’s your thing.
After a rigorous process of selection, you finally have a decent idea to ramble on. I say “ramble” because – you know it – you have a lot to say. (Don’t you always do?) Every idea in your head is played out to such intricate detail, such clarity that a short vignette won’t do. YOU. NEED. TO. RAMBLE.
So you set off on your quest to try (sigh) and explain to your reader the thought/idea in your funny little brain. You start off by writing the first sentence of what is set to be an overly loquacious piece of writing.
You pause. Hmm. Something doesn’t seem right, does it? You decide that that one word in the sentence could find a replacement and make the whole sentence sound better. You replace it. But that tinge of dissatisfaction lingers. You shake it off and move on. You write the second sentence and when you read the two together, the horror of your own creation strikes and you hit Ctrl+A followed by Delete.

You chide yourself, asking how you can possibly engage with your audience with a start to an article so feeble!?

An hour – or seven ‘Ctrl+A, Delete’s – later, you find yourself no further than where you were when you began.

On the days when you identify with this article, calm yourself, and convince yourself, that the objective of language is not to write beautifully, per se. That is secondary. The primary objective is – and will always remain -,to communicate; get your ideas across. So as long you can paint a word picture in your reader’s mind, you’re fine. Don’t go “Ctrl+A, Delete”. Just write the next sentence, and the next …and go on.