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Best Time of my Life: In Paradise

October 3, 2023
- Kavya Saxena

Everytime WONA would roll out an opportunity to pour our hearts out, I’d mostly be caught up in finishing an unfinished bit, be pulling up yet another campus event, had calls/meetings lined up, working on an impending project or every other imaginable manageable piece under the sun. While I was almost on the edge of missing out on this as well, I take a quick second to pat myself for having made it through writing this memoir, and thank everyone who’s going to be reading this.

~July 2019

Problem: You’ve gotten over with your JoSAA and have to report at IITR on July 19, 2019 as a new admit. You have four years ahead of you to plan out, and align yourself with the expectations laid down by your parents, family, peers, seniors and even the most distantly humanly piece there ever existed.

Few clarifying questions here; With that amount of subjectivity, how boon/bane-ful could the outcomes be if looked at objectively ? Campus Groups, Projects, Internships, Placement, PoRs; are these what gauge that ? By when should one be confident in the profile they apply to ? What’s an ideal roadmap to follow through these 4 years ?

Finding a perfect MECE structure for your memoir is a problem-solving exercise in itself, let alone the entire journey. But having fostered your organized, systematic, methodological and meticulous side doesn’t let you get away easily. While there’d be a bias towards Season 3(rd Year) & Season 4(th Year) owing to the recency effect and them being the COVID-free years, Season 1(st Year) & Season 2(nd Year) lay the perfect set.

Season 1 and Season 2

I would be lying if I say I did not target branch change at all, but I was equally comfortable in my own branch. Production and Industrial was a curriculum I liked, even tho I found it insufferable at a few points along the journey, there’d be a positive review that I write to it.

Freshers’ Week, Thomso (highlighting Jubin’s Pronite), 8am classes for Advanced English and Material Science, one-day Mussoorie trips, morning walking sprees to Ganga Canal and Solani Park and hopping around different canteens of the campus were few of the simpler things the first year was about.

Ended up being a member of importantly two clubs;

UBA: I had been excited about the range of work done in the group, that seemed pretty promising in terms of the skill development and networking opportunities it was to offer. There was certainly a “fam” in the family here. One of the firmest memories being, when a bunch of us first-yearites ditched the annual group trip to altogether-ly go for a sanitary pad distribution drive while our seniors were having their time at Manali. Proved to be a bonding sesh, and helped us sail through the COVID year where we were trying to have initiatives executed sitting 1000kms away from the tehsil of action. Yes, there was a hefty compromise on the set expectations from the group. The meetings had a deal of brainstorming initiatives, only to have double the effort, but half the impact. Phone calls with the insti admin & professors, a couple of collaborations and seldom COVID relaxations in Uttarakhand enabled the implementation of a Computer Lab-Setup at the GIC Horawala, which yes, was a feat.

ShARE~Doing Well, Doing Good: Having had a profound interest to uncover what lies behind “Management Consulting”, I was drawn towards the group from the very beginning, it being one of the two tech clubs I applied to. The club had a bunch of talented and structured thinkers, and I was driven to be one of them. I took the modules, training, the “DWDG”, peer case & guesstimate practices seriously enough, and made a decent peer circle within. COVID memories entail mostly forming internal teams to take part in case competitions D2C only to keep piling on the decks and trying to figure out the miss-outs, which had been dejecting for long. Participating with cross-year teams helped gradually tho, to understand and implement the frameworks and strengthen comprehension.

Global Projects with ShARE Global were something I always looked up to, for the international opportunity to work with ex-MBB leaders on a live business project they came with. Getting through three of them for my 1-2 Consulting Presentation on INP and mini-interview was a big shot then, which also molded my interests along E-Mobility and Energy.

Season 3 Taken up a lot of PoRs in groups, my frequent memories find me missing online lectures to have a meeting set-up Global Organizations, sending mails/documents to Ministries, leading initiative programs by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs & Ministry of Education (MoE): NSS & UBA respectively, both among the largest student body groups on-campus; while also having to answer “Yes, Sir!” on webex/teams when asked to respond.

Having had experience in serving social service clubs and volunteer work since school, I knew I was passionate about it. My attendance in NSS events since first year was never out of compulsion, be it waking up at 6 to be at the Main Building for Walkathons and Parades. That is when I knew I wanted to continue here. Working with like-minded seniors, being given the ownership of initiatives I brought in, and emotional belongingness to the team made me want to be here, followed by my tenure as the Joint Secretary (Central Events).

The National Social Summit had been close to my heart, for the vision and themes it had been catering to. Serving as the Convenor to the Annual Social Fest of IITR has to be one of the greatest learning opportunities, right from the conceptualization to ideation over theme & events, planning, collaborations, marketing, sharing panels with dignitaries from reputed bodies, and keeping one of the largest student body teams bound; each presented a new challenge, more so, a learning opportunity. What got me through this journey was the instilled sense of pride with the work being done, and the cause being contributed to each time.

More so, as the Overall Documentation Coordinator of UBA IITR, I had one job where me being “OC(aci)Dic” helped in the “reaction”, where I could remember a person by recalling the number of MoMs/BTOs that went missed on their part. The knack for “attention-to-detail” paid off here, except that I’m remembered by the phrase: “Doc ka kaam kharab hogaya hai”, but that certainly has been a lineage to that role, so, haha. The journey as a Central Team Member was moving, working with a diverse set of passionate people, but bound by the centered purpose.

No sooner did we have the offline operations resume, than the team got to ground to have all the roadblocks in the pipeline cleared. Also the 175 years celebration of IIT Roorkee to have the first-ever Samarthya conducted, a series of events (forbiddenly a fest XD), reignited the group culture. And hence, the “UBA mix: 4Ps” for me were: Persistence, Passion, Purpose and Punctuality (the iconic analogy to have wasted [(members present in the meeting)*(number of minutes you’re late by)] units of time when you’re late is going to stick for long).

Filler: MITACS GRI ft. Canada

With an internship offer with MITACS GRI (for those who don’t know, a fully-funded research program for international students in the country of Canada), I was engaged in my visa process till mid April’22, questioning all the while if cross-border COVID guidelines would permit me. I was finally able to embark on the journey to Toronto enroute Montreal on the night of my 21st birthday (yes, there hasn’t been a better birthday since). While those 3 months flew by in the blink of an eye, there never went a single second I did not thank the perfect turn of events that landed me there. Few things I still obsess over: Niagara Falls, Veg Poutine (it exists, and is not the same as loaded fries) and Toronto: The City To-Run-To (pardon the bad puns). The time was dreamlike. Exposure to the research culture and environment was customary, but sharing apartments with people from across, pot-luck events, game nights, an all-nighter at the Fallsview Casino (thank god I was 21) and so much more were all pieces hardest to give away, and while I boarded my flight back, it was with the hope of returning some day. Only if it were an Intern Diary, I would ramble on more. Always up for conversations about the same, hmu if interested.

Maturity was realizing that coming back to the hustle and bustle of campus (rather placements) may not be something desired, but necessary. PPO announcements had captured the instagram feed, and even though that wasn’t an alternative for me, the anxiousness had started to creep in.

*Season 4 *

Part One

The dreadful Placement Season sure is a reality check, especially with most tests being taken from rooms. The semester was for sure one of the busiest ones of the B.Tech., especially with the add-ons I had put on myself with 2-3 extra courses semester-ly to have a Minor Specialization in Business Administration. It were the months of October & November when the Noticeboard was always highly-trafficked, with each of us having our eyes pinned on the latest release of companies, profiles, deadlines and shortlists. I was taken aback when I wasn’t shortlisted for BCG after a month-long anticipation that I would. Sure I have had humbling experiences in the course of these years, but it wasn’t worth denying that I had all the seeming “spikes”. Worse was running into people, and all being asked about “What happened? What went wrong?” Only if I had the answer, it could have been easier to sob myself into the narrative. Few days of perplexity and introspection only to realize what I do each time I choose to believe it: there are better things incoming, and they sure were. Silver lining: made it a point to crack the first interview Day-1 and was able to convert it to an express offer from American Express. While I write this, I am gleefully a part of the BlueBox Family:))

Part Two

Placed. Supposedly the most awaited phase here. All your semesters, you can catch the phrase at least once in a while “yaar 4-2 mein karte hai”. Burdened with a thousand such things made the sem no different from the others, with the added pressure of it being the one last opportunity to do whatever got missed out. Pardon the disconnected bits here, for they are relatively multi-directional.

Here’s the line-up: had a participation in 3 FOSs being Music, Choreo & FashSoc in the month of February, along with an Inter IIT (which ended in a gold yaya), which were honestly what I always wanted to do, but being bad at prioritization and unwillingness to step out of my comfort zone, I repeatedly kept missing it, followed by cycles of regret and banter. While in this vicious cycle, I had some incredible souls who stood beside and gave me the required push whenever needed. At the end of it, I did it all. The joy in creating, delivering, performing and basking in the spotlight remains amongst the best, I conclude.

4-2 was also a lot about sitting in others’ rooms after dinner, and then going back to your room at 6am. Laughter filled the rooms, echoing through the corridors late into the night, banishing stress and replacing it with joy. All-night study sessions into Sarojini’s Reading Room, where we encouraged and pushed each other to strive even when exhaustion seemed insurmountable. I thank those special people for the campus escapades, inside jokes, the secret lingos, and their unwavering support.

It were these mornings when I checked WhatsApp only to have congratulatory wishes pouring in for being an Encore Awardee and IITRHF Annual Excellence Award for the Third Time in a row, counting as some of the stellar moments of the entire journey, for they were a reminder that all that I had put in this time, never went wasteful:)) One of the very very few times when those virtues begin to make a tad sense to you.

It was this casual post-dinner plan on the randomest evening of March’23 when I had my first Divine-ful experience. Vibing to “Biba’’ and the bolly-techno music can never be the same, as in the green-lit area (only literally) of Motel Divine. When you see the guards gate-keeping harder than usual, it is only when there had been a fight last night, which you regret missing sooo much! But then, you figure your way into it through the corridors on the first floor.

The Goa Trip for MIED’23 was the most-called for moment, but the clash with Convo’22 made it a hard call. Also owing to my slothful side, I decided to stay back instead, but ended up having possibly the greatest days at IITR, seeing familiar faces of the senior batches pour in, and the flooding crowds at all hotels/motels/restaurants screaming “chapos’’ all over.

Heavy credit to the Department Photoshoot & the Class Song’23 shoot (spot us at 0:46), one of the v few opportunities for all 51 of the branch to recollect, and reminisce old days of the Freshers’ Week’19 when branch groups were all that existed. “Socha hai, ye tumne kya kabhi” had a big no no, but the ringing bells of the fleeting time had a cohesive effect after all.

Farewells “Are we hearing the farewell bells any time soon?”. We sure are. Late April and early May were filled with photoshoots, chapos and farewells.

Jaate-Jaate: Smiling and greeting faces of the Team UBA and Chandpur had always been a delight, cheering you up on the dullest of the days; loving invites and creatives, the Psyche and Mafia nights and baseless negotiations from it shall all be remembered by. The T-shirt signing Team Chandpur on the day of the photoshoot was wrenching hard, but the remarks by the juniors and team were sure treasurable. Played the spirit character Geet on the ‘well night, and bid a happy goodbye to the place.

For ShARE, having the randomest conversations at ShARE room, post meetings, sessions, interviews and high-rush dancing at chapos brought us all closer. To add to it, it was the night when “I felt 22” when I had my ShARE (read SocBizz) farewell. The first and last birthday I was having at IITR, ngl had been prettay excited about it, and getting to have the moment with the associates was an overwhelmingly unmatched moment. The cake-cutting, wishes pouring in, all of it while I played the beloved “Himawari’,’ all yellow-ed-up with a whip and a bottle of intoxicated milk will be remembered.

Finale: Closure

Wrapped up the journey with a super-soon convocation and two golds. This is where I should probably stop and give my closing remark. As much as I believe in hard work and its outcomes, I feel destiny would always make things right for one, not necessarily the ones we want, but right. Even today when I get a junior texting for advice, dilemma over intern/placement season, or general discussion over life, I like to say as intimidating a journey of an alumnus might seem, it all turns out in a uniquely awesome way for everyone who goes through his/her trajectory here, in the magical R-Land.

4 years ago, I always wanted to see myself where I am today. Rarely do I catch myself saying this, but I am content with how this journey unfolded. No complaints and regrets (obviously LOTS, who are we kidding :p).

In the closing pages of my memoir, as I reflect on the myriad moments, I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude for the lessons learned, the connections made, and the resilience that carried me through. As I stand at this crossroad, I am in a position to claim I had the Best Time Of My Life, In Paradise (having spent the entire final sem obsessed with it lol). Checking writing this memoir off my list, or as my Manager loves to hear: JIRA RESOLVED.