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1, 0 And Something In Between

June 7, 2022
- Arnav Sambhare

Alright, let’s get to it. Let’s talk about this place. A place separated from a town stuck in the 80s by white walls and gates that ably defend its tranquillity. After wading through the disorder of the e-rickshaws (and those noisy Vikrams), the anarchy of the competing bus honks and the rather unpleasant pace of action right outside, entering these gates is a relief like no other. Perhaps, on a larger scale, a nod to what this campus stands for in my life.

Like most of the entrants, confined to a fair amount of solitude, spending close to half a decade in this beautiful campus is not just a reward but also a much-needed antidote to the somewhat withdrawn attitude developed over the years. Overwhelmed by the amount of faces and fairly forgettable introductions, my first year was spent getting up to speed with this new life. Frankly, for the first few weeks, it didn’t even hit me that I would be spending four years of my life here. Clubs gave me an essential push to help me experience the flavours of IITR. I still remember reluctantly trying my hand at a club’s recruitment test. Surprisingly, this club went on to be an incredibly important part of my campus life.


The stunning evolution of the nature of conversations still astounds me. From the initially hesitant testing of my acquaintances’ limits to the exchange of completely thoughtless and relentless banter among newfound buddies. With that, trips, chapos, late night campus walks, schemes to get out of academic responsibilities and sessions to discuss topics of global importance filled my days. Unintentionally, I began cycling and experienced the campus and the roads which were very artistically lit by the mellow streetlights. But soon, I started rationing my time as I grappled to come to terms with my professional ambitions, a step that I now find bizarrely laughable.

Right when things were slowly starting to take shape, all of us were very unceremoniously exiled from the campus due to the pandemic. It began as an extended MTE break and proceeded to delight us with cancelled ETEs. But the trade-off was just cruel and unjust. For most, IIT Roorkee morphed into an ocean of scanned assignments, lecture links and deadlines. Something which couldn’t have been more contradictory with my view of IIT-R. Struggling with unreasonable deadlines and ignorant attitudes in an environment where cheating in tests was, game-theoretically, the most logical response; we made it to 2021 where some respite was promised with the campus reopening. It was great when it really happened, but all that joy was agonisingly short-lived as the second wave sent us all back. Propelled, rather unwillingly, into the senior year while stationed at our homes, most of us begin preparing for the placements. A three-month-long extravaganza of shattered dreams, unexpected outcomes, unparalleled self-doubt, and inexplicable victories (not because they’re prestigious but because you don’t know why you made it). It was so heartening to see the amount of help and guidance pouring in from each corner, from seniors to fellow placements-test-takers to other non-participating batchmates. It is still one of the most unforgettable memories for me.


Meanwhile, my connection with the campus was lost. I felt as if everything had already become a memory after being away from the place for so long. Irrationally, I yearned to get a virtual degree and be done with the place. However, without much thought, I did apply to get my campus return approved. Just in case I felt like returning. The third wave scare delayed the approval, and I grew even more pessimistic. It was late February that I received the approval and I decided to go, a decision I couldn’t be happier about now.

My final semester, like the strongest nightcap to ever be served, was an extraordinary one. I was finally meeting people who I only interacted with virtually for a long time. Everything suddenly felt very alive. Each day, we did the same stupid things, but it somehow felt different each time. Everyone, aware of the impermanence of the opportunity we had, enthusiastically jumped on anything that came along the way. Plans and meetups stretched across weeks. The cultural clubs’ events and the FOS shows once again restored the cult society to its former glory. As the date to leave the campus drew closer and one by one, people started leaving, phrases like “one last time” and “last xyz” echoed throughout the campus.


Leaving Roorkee, I realised that I was leaving an environment where I found my place. Strangely, it doesn’t hit you enough till you reach home and miss the “Bahar chalega?”, or the “Divine aa jaa” texts that used to light up your days. “That era has passed. Nothing that belongs to it exists anymore.” All that remains is confined to the pictures that can only remind you of the times you had. Okay that’s enough, I’m out of the gates, back to the clamour now.