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My Memoir: A Love Letter to Roorkee

August 14, 2021
- Saurabh Singh

The more my memories take me back, the more I feel like this has to be a letter. This is a letter to my college days, days I look back on, and will look back on. An ode to a life once lived.

The first time we met, a little less than four years ago, and I feel quite bad saying this, but I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t anything about you, but I had heard and read so much about you that I felt like I already knew everything there was to know about you. You would be the ‘best time of my life’, give me the best friendships, teach me everything about life, and of course, solve the dreaded ‘figuring out what to do with your life’ dilemma. I must say I expected too much from our first date. I did not expect to fall in love with you either, so I think we can establish I was quite bad at judging our relationship.

I remember the first day being quite noisy, with the registrations going on in the sweltering convocation hall and all the kids and their parents being absolutely livid at the conditions. The journey to the hostel was beautiful, the sky was bright blue, the campus so green, and going to the Main Building caught me completely off guard. That day, I met some of the best people I know. Oh, what I’d do to go back and meet the awkward goofy guys for the first time again. It’s an amazing journey, watching the people around you growing to the best versions of themselves over the years.

Not long after that, I went to try for the NSS Editorial. If it was something necessary (joining one of NSS/NCC/NSO was compulsory during our time), why not make it something I’d actually like. It was raining the day we got the tiny writing test, with one second yearite grinning stupidly at all the first yearites scrambling away after taking the test from his hand. We did go on to become very good friends. Then came the interviews a few days later, and Satviko’s dining room was the place where the good samaritans of NSS decided to bully us. It is still one of the most vivid memories I have. During our group discussion round, we were supposed to discuss a certain topic, but a guy said something that was a little debatable and one furious girl decided that he was most certainly wrong and decided to explain to him how mistaken he was in every aspect of his statement. I thought I would never talk to this girl again. We are the best of friends now. All three of us did work quite a bit for NSS, and we did some good work with the humans of IITR initiative, for which I’m very proud. We also orchestrated the treasure hunt in our second year, and we had the time of our life watching people running around trying to make sense of our terrible clues riddled with brilliant puns. I decided not to continue my journey with NSS after my second year as I thought I didn’t have much to contribute from that point on. I look back and think that it was the right decision at the right time.

By the end of the first semester, I was getting quite comfortable around you. During the vacations, there was a massive hype train around getting into tech groups. I didn’t really get it then, all the excitement around the groups. Any one of us could start a new group. What was the fuss about, I never really understood. Perhaps it was the fear of missing out and the hype. I think glorification is one of the things that our campus culture does really well. Of people, groups, ideologies, events, fests, etc. Taking something that is good and hyping it up to be something extraordinary and almost impossible to reach (read: GSoC’s, foreign interns, politics). I don’t think this is going to change, so beware the hype train. I believe anyone with enough grit can do anything. But then that’s me and we have already established how bad I can be at judgements. Coming back, I really liked MDG, and tried to get into it, and did.

The people of MDG were amazing back then, and they’re amazing now. It did eventually become the centre of my campus life, in and out of the lab, with all the events, projects and fun that we had in the middle. I think I got the best guidance of my campus life from the folks there, because almost every advice was countered by someone else with the opposite advice, and that really made me think about things before taking them for granted and taking them to be true. I learned a bit about development, a bit about research and a bit about startups. I did eventually participate in a lot of hackathons with a lot of different people. The best lesson I learned from them was that the best ideas are those that are your own. I will really miss MDG from my everyday life.

I came to you with some simple expectations about academics too. I love electronics and computers and I had hoped that the curriculum would intrigue me a lot more than it did. The courses were a hit-and-miss, I really loved some courses, and more often than not because of the teacher than the subject itself. Not that I’m complaining, having such a structure gave me a lot of independence to do my own work in the directions that I wanted to take. The magic was that it wouldn’t have worked if I didn’t have the guidance that I had, and it wouldn’t have worked if the courses were more demanding, yet it did, right there in the perfect centre. Exams were always stupid, and will continue to be, so I have little to say for them. They were what they were. The best thing about the exams was that we had a ritual that after the end of the sleepless nights of exams, me and my friends would go out for heavy servings of pizza and coke, and then sleep the day off. Absolute bliss.

The end of the second year was surprisingly productive. After binging TV shows for days on end, I was suddenly doing an internship, a GSoC and preparing for the intern season. I had some amazing months in Bangalore working with some of my seniors, partying and eating out every kind of cuisine I could find. I did miss you a bit during that time, and once I was back on campus, you really did punish me for not spending that much time practicing for the intern season. But it paid off and I did get one intern, and was in a great space by the end of 2019. We had so much time back then, so many long night walks to remember.

Then came 2020 with surprises, a pandemic, and unexpected goodbyes. It started out as a short break for us, but it kept on extending, to the point where I lost hopes of seeing you again for a long time. I really did miss you, and I hope you missed all of us too. By the end of the third year, my internship got cancelled and there were little hopes of us getting back to you. From then on started a long journey, wishing to get back to you, but knowing the chances were slimming down as the time went on. With the rejection software development gave me, I went on to try research for a couple of months, where I eventually realized that I had to go back to development. A couple more months for placement preparation kept me occupied, and suddenly it was 2021, with declining cases of the pandemic, a job offer, and a head full of hope.

Now is the right time to let you know about my love of travel. If you were sentient, I’d guess you’d think that it is about escapism, but it’s really not. To give my best shot at it, it is about remembering that more exists in life, that memories are better when they are being lived and that it’s okay if you never really know every place you ever visited, the only thing that matters is what the place meant to you. But then again, you’re not sentient enough for me to have a philosophical discussion with you. Back to the start of 2021, I went on to have some of the best adventures of my life, with a bit of camping, some mountains, some driving, some beaches, all with some of my favourite people. I found myself in love with scuba diving, bonfires and watching sunrises.

Then came the notifications that the campus was reopening. Oh, the joy! We’d get to spend our time together. After a long quarantine, we were together once again. For a few short days and long nights, we had a lot of memories. All my friends were there, and it was just electric to be there in those days. We played a lot of games then, and even got to spend one last holi with you. Once again, I found my love for the main building when it’s basking in the sunlight under the bright blue sky. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe, but the memory fills me with joy. The cases began to increase in due time, and I had to leave you once again. It was heartbreaking, leaving you so soon, and with you all of my friends. In another world, it would have been magical to have all my batchmates and juniors back to spend one last night together.

And just like that, we’re at the end of our journey together. I wish you would open up soon and let others fall in love with you the way we did. As my time with you ends, a new chapter in my life begins, and I can only hope that I grow a fraction as a person as I did when I was with you. A little more books, a few more friends, a bit more love. There’s so much uncertainty for both of our paths right now, but I sincerely hope for brighter days ahead. That, and an offline convocation. It’s not too much to ask, right?

With love,
Yours truly