My earnest attempt to find that remote control switch to transform the memories I hold from some 23 odd years ago, as I type this, into reality, can best be termed as my conscious effort to enter a zone of cognitive dissonance. But no. Any delusion I have that there is even a ‘remote’ possibility to achieve this is being squashed in regular intervals by a family portrait that is sitting on my desk, every time I turn away from my monitor to look at it so as to keep my feet on the ground and to give me the sense of today, as it should be. But then, it is not easy to let go off those memories.
Nothing prepares you for Pilani. Nothing, Really. Even if you have had a sibling who went to Pilani, the closest you would have gotten to the Pilani experience is probably the familiarity of slangs. Yes, those hazaar slangs BITSians use. But nothing prepares you for Pilani. The only way you get that experience is by being a BITSian. My latest visit (and my only visit to Pilani since I graduated) was in January 2011. I did notice a lot of changes. The campus had changed a lot, yet I felt right at home. There are newer buildings now, the students wear different kinds of attires now, the modes of transportation within the campus have changed a bit (more cars) and yet, there was a sense of familiarity all around. The smell, the color, the feel and most importantly the vibrancy of the campus, the one thing that makes being a BITSian unique, are still in tact.
Ha! Being a BITSian….
It was late summer in 1990 when I first found out that I got admission into BITS Pilani. I was walking back home from my then routine – A late afternoon cricket session. Sweaty, dirty and yet nervous to what was in store in mail that day, because it was the season of admissions. I opened the card and was disappointed to read that I didn’t get my first choice – Chemical Engineering. The disappointment was short lived as I soon learned that I was admitted to the Dual Degree program (M.Sc Chemistry). A cousin of mine who had inhabited the campus for 2 years already then was a proud Dualite – So I had learned a thing or two about the program & I believed it was more glamorous than a single degree. It was a matter of minutes before I started selling the benefits of the Dual Degree program, so vehemently to my parents and grand parents, for the fear of them not permitting me to go to Pilani cast a fearful shadow over my joy. Fortunately, my grand father who was going to be the sponsor of my education didn’t need much selling as he was convinced right away that I was meant to go to Pilani and become a BITSian. In the next few days & weeks, notwithstanding the Anna University waiting list news and my top choice program admission news at the local Engineering college in Tirunelveli, a 2000 km journey was being planned – A journey which changed my life for the better.
My father and a cousin of mine who was living in Delhi then accompanied me to Pilani. The train journey from Tirunelveli put me in touch with another cricket friend of mine who was also ensuing his journey toward a BITSian future. The first few days of my stay in Pilani were nothing short of intimidating. Intimidating because I was really a small town boy, who didn’t know I was one till I walked into the campus that July in 1990. My father and the cousin left after a few days & I was to left to my own device.
The first few days were filled with getting overwhelmed with running away from seniors and ragging. In hindsight, that probably was not the wisest thing to do and I didn’t have any wise man advising me to actually hang around with more seniors.
Registration, Priority number, Courses, Linear Algebra, CDCs, Electives, Deans, M-Block, S-Block, Museum, UCO Bank, Mess, Shankar, Vyas, Ram, Gandhi, Budh, Malaviya, Meera, Ashok, Rana Pratap, Vishwakarma, Bhagirath Bhawans, Rediwallahs, Nutan, C’not, Shiv Ganga, QT, Wings, New Wing, T Wing…Insti, Workshop and most importantly Sky. This is a short list of what I needed to learn to orient myself in the campus so that I could start pretending to attend classes. And so it began…My life as a BITSian.
So what makes being a BITSian unique?
I have often asked this question to myself because attending a 4 year or a 5 year program in a closed campus is not unique to BITS Pilani.
Is it the fact that Pilani is actually a small town in the middle of nowhere with no easy access to any big city that makes being a BITSian unique? Or Is it the hard to explain connectivity one gets to establish with all the places & the memories associated with these places within the campus that makes it unique? It certainly can’t be connectivity to the friends you establish during your 4 years in campus because if that is the case, then the link stops at some point and from then on, BITS Pilani becomes a mere matter of fact, while your bonding with your friends is all about your own personal relationship & memories. Is it the food? Is it the fact that BITS Pilani is still ranked in the Top 10 Technological institutions in India (This can’t be because so are many IIT campuses)…? What is it?
The honest answer is ‘I am not sure’. But I have to believe it is a combination of the first 2..
No matter whatever makes being a BITSian unique, it is getting more and more obvious to me that the pride one wears on his or her sleeve as a BITSian is almost uniform. Majority of those BITSians I know from my network still do that. In a recent gathering to celebrate the first ever “BITSians Day” on Aug 2, 2013, the oldest alum was from the 1960 batch (graduated in 1963 and 67). The youngest was from the 2008 batch (graduated in 2008). That explains the gist of what I am trying to say.
Ha! Being a BITSian…
Should I start writing about our induction into an eating system called mess where a mishmash of North Indian – South Indian culinary fare was served consistently, in an attempt to fool us that we were being well taken care of…?
Or should I focus on the Rediwallahs who were our sole tongue watchers, serving us plates and plates of samosas with some stomach churning masala and sauces, a concoction of sugar, cream & bananas, hot chai and even some lemon juice with rock salt and sugar..?
Or should I highlight the regular late night trips we made to Pappu’s for paneer maggi only to follow it up with MNB at Blue Moon in Connaught only to be followed with a late late night trip to ANC for a hot cup of chai accompanied by some hot jalebis??
May be I should just mention the sole purpose of our whole stay in campus for 4 years – The Sky..Hmm.
But this is if I just want to talk about food. What about the other stuff? Oh, my memory wheel is going crazy…
The first ModPhy quiz, the freshers night where my debut musical composition was staged, our backstage adventures and the bonding, cricket, QT cricket, my games sec tenure, my PEP tenure, my failed attempt to become a COSTAAn, trips to Delhi, the bus journeys, the ever loathful train journeys between Old Delhi and Loharu, The tests, the compres, my second semester injury, long lacha sessions, watching friends get sloshed, music nights, roctaves, OASIS, Apogee, oh..wait..Looks like I am just getting started.
Ha! Being a BITSian..
You can read my other posts filed under ‘on such things’ here.