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Memoir: Of Debates and Doggos

May 23, 2019
- Arnav Bhardwaj

I remember my first morning at IIT Roorkee as I woke up to witness a procession of dogs marching into the room since the door had been accidentally left open and apparently, the dogs saw that as an invitation to my humble RJB abode. The treatment of these R-land dogs was to subsequently become the biggest topic of debate on this campus with people proposing extreme measures ranging from almost giving them citizenship rights to conducting a doggo massacre. Dogs are said to have premonitions and in retrospect, the dogs might have expected me to lend support to their cause in light of their upcoming troubles. But my affection for endearing biting doggos was as short-lived as my affection for mess food. Having embraced myself for all sorts of culinary disasters, the mess food initially seemed much better than expected. However, soon the horrors came to light as the pulses began to be ‘water’ed down along with my resolve to tolerate mess food. The saying - ‘If you can tolerate RJB mess food, you can tolerate food anywhere’ helped me survive through the first year.

Apart from that, I got in touch with some amazing people, who became an inalienable part of my life in the coming years. It was great to meet people coming from various cultures and places and get to know about their lives and perspectives. However, despite the diversity, a common culture persisted on campus. A prominent part of this culture was the lingo. Within a few months, I got accustomed to the quintessential R-land lingo and was soon throwing around words like ‘ghissu’, ‘machau’ in random conversations. I especially remember the overuse of the word ‘ghissu’ to the extent that we were using it to describe even someone, who started studying a night before the exam. It was just one of the many slangs that stuck and subsequently lost all meaning.

The turning point came in my 2nd year, when I realised that a Debating Society existed on the campus (it wasn’t very active back then). I came in contact with some stellar senior debaters, who would go on to become my mentors in debating and otherwise. I grew fond of debating not only because it remarkably improved my public speaking skills but also because it improved my analytical abilities by allowing me to deeply explore complex issues from multiple viewpoints. I attended my first debating tournament at the National Law University in Delhi. While witnessing stellar debates by seasoned debaters from DU and prominent law colleges was quite intimidating, the gained exposure proved to be a great learning experience. These learnings proved to be extremely useful in the 1st Inter-IIT Cultural Meet at IIT Bombay, in which I was selected as one of the five panellists for judging the finals. Towards the end of the year, I realised that the impact of debating went beyond making me a better public speaker. Debating transformed me completely by making me much more confident as an individual. This unwavering faith in self helped me excel in numerous presentations and interviews, making this the single most useful skill acquired in my college life. In order to allow the DebSoc to grow further, the seniors helped establish the DebSoc as a full-fledged separate entity of the Cultural Council. This proved to be a watershed moment as this single move was to facilitate the rapid growth of a debating culture on campus in the years to come.

The third year arrived and I got busy with the whole internship process, which typically begins with writing glorified odes to oneself, in a process called ‘CV-making’. I remember myself and many those around me turning into heroes overnight, improving the profits of random companies by GDP-rivalling numbers as interns or spearheading (and not leading) mammoth-sized campus groups, which could put armies to shame. Setting the amusement of judging each other’s glorified CVs aside however, the internship process turned out to be a stressful affair. I had a disappointing run in the first semester with the limited analytics and core companies that arrived on campus. Thankfully, I managed to get two internship offers at the end of the year - a Process Consulting internship at KBC Singapore and a Business Analytics internship at Penguin RandomHouse. I chose the former.

Apart from that, I had assumed the position of Additional Secretary of the DebSoc and a significant portion of my time was devoted to setting the foundation of the newly-established Debating Society on campus. The take-off stage involved the DebSoc’s first-ever recruitments, subsequent training of the recruits and participation in major debating tournaments. All these efforts seemed to finally pay off as we broke into the quarter finals of a national-level debating tournament and ended up at the 3rd position in the Inter-IIT held at IIT Kanpur. I remember a failed attempt at recreating a Federer-style trophy-kissing Wimbledon moment after the lnter-IIT. Considering how weird that looked with the miniature second runner-up trophy, I realised the need to get a bigger one in the coming years for a not-so-weird recreation.


Once the rosy period of my internship in Singapore ended, the fourth year arrived like a sudden storm out of the blue and I got busy with hectic placement preparations. Friends could be seen huddling together like penguins to brave the impending storm of placements unitedly. Every new company appearing on Channel-I gave a beacon of hope and yet, a sinking fear of the placement process coming closer. This period made me realise the importance of good friends in life. Whether it be helping out with interview preparations, giving last-moment ego boosts or simply lending morale support, each one of them selflessly helped me in different ways during this period. As the storm subsided, I finally got placed at OYO as a Business Analyst.

Once the storm was over and hashtags like #andha_paisa had faded away from social media, life began to crawl back to normal. Since this was the last semester, I indulged in activities, which I couldn’t earlier because of time constraints or other reasons. I participated in my first-ever slam poetry in Kshitij’s FOS-Eunoia. The immense free time allowed me to read books, play snooker and tennis, hang out with friends or simply laze around. Late-night campus walks with friends, which often involved random discussions related to philosophy or politics, were also great memories. As this journey comes to an end, I am taking with me not only great memories but learnings from all the people I got to know on the campus. Parting with R-land was sad. But at the end of the day, I will remember the wisdom of one of my friends – ‘Life is meant to be sad. If you are expecting it to be happy, you are feeling uselessly entitled’.