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1421 days; 2115 words

September 8, 2021
- Manya Singh

I have realised that each one of us lives in an equally kaleidoscopic world, the protagonists of our own stories. The reason I am sitting in front of my laptop and writing this memoir is not that I have better stories to tell; it just is how it is. Not that I don’t have some fairly interesting stories that I could talk about, but so can you, and so can everyone. But then, what do I hope to achieve by writing this memoir? For starters, it would help shut up the juniors at Watch Out! that keep pestering me to write one.

I guess my main aim is to hopefully write something encapsulating all the emotions I’m experiencing regarding parting with this era so that I could read it again one golden afternoon ten years down the line. I will probably fall down the rabbit hole of reading memoirs of my seniors, my peers, my juniors and feel, I guess, something. I hope it’ll be bittersweet happiness. I have no way of knowing.

That’s around two paras of just me writing about writing this memoir, sigh, I guess we’re in for the long ride. To ensure that the rest of my memoir doesn’t end up like the rambling that came before this, I think I should list down specific things that I want in my memoir lest I forget them.

The walks:

I like a lot of things about Roorkee. The place, the food, the people, the sky, the birds, the trees, the dogs that you recognise by the end of your fourth year, the small-town feel, the aloofness of it all, but the thing I value the most is the walks. Never in my life before coming to Roorkee, I had experienced the pleasure of walking alone on a street at 3 A.M., blasting music at a volume that shuts down everything outside. I have walked down the same well-worn paths in increasingly larger circles, paths that were traversed by many before me and will be traversed by many after me. In winters I couldn’t see five feet ahead of me on account of the fog, and each step felt like stepping into a new world, a world as isolated as the previous ones. It is hard to describe the beauty of Roorkee on those winter nights: the lamplight filtering through red flowers on a tree casts a ghastly red tint to the atmosphere, the air bites into my face and I’ve never felt more awake at 2 AM. I walk on the path that goes from MAC to Main Building, and as I step onto that last step, Main Building emerges from the fog, a minuscule moon hanging right above it. It makes me feel isolated and a part of something large all at once. It is hard to imagine when and if I’ll get to experience this again.


The dogs:

When I first came to Roorkee, I was terrified of dogs. I would either stop or take the longer path around to avoid dogs in my way. To be fair, some of the dogs around MAC are feral and chased a fellow member of my group on her bicycle who screamed her head off. But fast forward to my final year, and I am comfortable around most campus dogs and have even taken a particular liking towards Chattu (Jawahar Bhawan’s pampered, spoiled resident dog). I think seeing how my friends reacted and were comfortable around dogs prompted me to, one day finally in my last semester, pet Chattu. I know this might sound like a small detail in the grand scheme of things, but it is in the small things that I find the most remarkable change in myself.

The food:

I will not miss the specific dishes I ate in Roorkee; I am sure I can find or at least imitate them wherever I am. But, I am going to miss the eateries; the canteen waale bhaiyas and their disregard for us customers; the discoveries and the pleasure of sharing those discoveries with your friends; the sudden plans to go to spice club for lunch after just one look at the mess menu; the collective groan when we realised there’s nothing “khaane layak” on the mess menu; the collective excitement at the prospect of a single sub-par gulab jamun at dinner. Then there are the small nooks and corners- the ever so shady Food Point that I discovered only in my last sem or the small shop run by an elderly couple, Tintin, that spoke of unsaid stories of inexplicable intimacy. It was in these irrelevant experiences that I caught glimpses of the Roorkee that I am going to miss, the parts that can’t ever be replicated.


A solitary walk from my hostel to Amul parlour to get a scoop of ice cream that cost Rs 60 (it felt like a splurge back then) has cured me of my worst moods.

The groups:

Like a lot of people on campus, group activities formed a major part of my college experience. I was a member of three groups, Watch Out! (Wona), Debating Society (DebSoc) and Information Management Group (IMG). I can see traces of each of these groups in the person I am today after interacting with them nonstop for four years. Each of these groups has its own vibrant culture, thick with traditions and values.

The people at IMG are the embodiment of work hard & party harder. I have seen them give their all to the lab and to the dance floor; it’s such a refreshing thing to witness and be a part of. Debsoc is a mix of all kinds of people and, for the longest time, was a place for me to vent out my frustrations. I got to create arguments and then spout them for seven minutes on the most trivial, purposeless and ineffectual topics. It was such a respite from the high-stakes situations that college usually throws at you: what career should I pursue? Should I try to do a project or focus on CP? Masala patty or something new? Well, you get the idea. Watch Out! is a mixed bag of emotions. I met some of the best people on campus, had some of the most intellectually stimulating discussions, fought and made up with friends, had moments of extreme frustration and exhilaration, as a part of it. I am glad that I got to be a part of something much bigger than myself in these groups. I wish I had more time with them but the limited amount I had is among the best spent on campus.

The campus:

I spent most of my time at my hostel room, the senate steps for wona meetings, the lab for IMG stuff, shuffling between Govind common room, MAC and new SAC rooms for debates, CCD visits, various canteens, LHC, Physics department, a little bit of MGCL and the main building. I never thought places could elicit such strong emotions, but they do, and that’s such a nice thing to exist in the world.


The view from my hostel bedroom.

The people:

In the quiet solitude of my room, what remains of my days at Roorkee are the people. From the impromptu video calls to the gaming sessions decided days ahead in time, the voices of people I befriended at Roorkee are the ones that fill up my empty room. These people are the sole reason for my continued sanity during the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. The fear that “the last I saw of some of them” is already in my past is very real and I try not to think about it every day.

Change is inevitable, but the past stays with us. Some people will remain in my life forever, while others crossed only for a limited time. I am sure I will meet new friends, I will change, and so will the people around me, but the past that we shared will always be a part of us, or at least that’s what I try to tell myself. I wish I could count down every single person that touched my life in my college days and list them in this memoir to immortalise them and their place in my life in this insignificant corner of the internet. I hope those people recognise themselves in these words and feel even a fraction of my gratitude towards them.


I used to doodle away my time in most of the physics classes. From there I started Adventures of Samosa and Monty (AOSM) with one of my closest friends and future roommate at the time.

For the juniors who are reading this:

I wish things were as easy as me telling you to follow this said path and you will achieve success, but in the words of one of the wisest characters to ever exist:


I have no gyaan to impart. I just have stories to share, and maybe you can find something useful in them, who knows. As I said, I was a part of three groups and had what would most call a good CG. I feel like getting good grades isn’t that tough if you like the subject. If you don’t, then just grind and focus on CWS because it’s the easiest way to get better grades.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life when I came on campus. I still don’t. So I tried a bunch of stuff. I did a research internship in Physics in my second year and realised I wasn’t meant for it. I was a part of IMG as a designer at that point, and so the next logical step felt like trying my hand at designing. And try I did, I spent the next half-year working on projects and perfecting my portfolio. As fate would have it, COVID struck, and all my leads turned cold. As days grew on, it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be able to get the kind of internship I wanted, the kind that would get me a PPO or help in finding a job. I was at the end of my third year with one Research internship, a bunch of design projects and a couple of PORs on my resume. It was the beginning of one of the darkest periods of my life where I second-guessed my every step and agonised over the smallest of decisions. I spoke to a couple of seniors( just a couple), brainstormed, formulated my “life philosophy”, and set down to traverse the tried and tested path of campus placements (shudders). It was not smooth sailing, but long story short, friends, family, and over a thousand revisions of my worst-case scenario helped me get through it. The bottom line is that we already have a head start being at an IIT, and our worst-case scenario is already better than many people. You’ll get a lot of chances to climb up the ladder.

One thing that I would tell my younger self, i.e. my first-year self, if I get the chance, is to take more pictures/videos with the people you love, the places you frequent, the moments you cherish. The limited amount of pictures that I have got/taken bring me immense joy whenever I revisit them these days.

Mandatory rant about the lockdown:

The pandemic robbed me of my lasts. In life there are many things you don’t know would be your lasts, but you kind of know about these things in college, at least that’s what I think, not that I have any way of knowing. Covid robbed me of my lasts at college. My last music section show, my last drams play, my last meal at utopia, my last debate, my last meeting at senate steps, my last tt match with my best friend, my last goodbye to some of my closest friends, my last lectures, my last year, my last semester. I was going through these moments, not knowing those were going to be my last. Even the second time around, those brief moments felt almost stolen from a life without this pandemic. I wish I had known those would be my lasts; I would have held those moments closer, imprinted every last detail of those moments in my brain. All that I’m left with is hazy memories; the harder I try to hold on, the faster they seem to escape. It’s like I blinked at the wrong nanosecond and missed the exact moment when I lost sight of land, except that, in this case, I didn’t even know I was on a boat receding from the shore.