Saturday, February 05, 2005

BITS of fun?

No way!

As i begin to write this, i want to flail my arms in familiar fashion, make irritating and angry noises, roll my eyes and convey as much agitation as humanly possible. Cos I cant begin to imagine a day without fun at Pilani. Now, that does not do away with those awful days of the lowest lows and "oh u're so worthless" times. Nor does it try and claim the "it's the way u live ur life that makes it fun or otherwise" philosophical high ground. However, I do hope to convey beyond doubt that there was always something that was fun to me and happy about Pilani. And the best part was, there were times when things were fun simply becos u wouldn't live or do them anywhere else. Ever!

Sample? Well, what about baking cakes together as a wing for the 12 o'clock birthday? i continue student life in another school now. The dorm comes with a pantry, a well stocked refrigerator...well, the works. Birthdays are brought in beautifully here too. There is this huge congregation of 70-100 people singing for u, and cheering u on as u cut your 20th/27th/31st/42nd birthday cake. The cakes of course come from this speciality place called "Upper crust". Or was it "cakes and bakes"? Never mind.

You thought that was girls' domain? Try and ask some of those guys from Krishna, who tried valiantly to produce one of 'em chocolate wonders on 'her' special day. With or without cake, you've lived (and survived) a fun experience.

Oh, before i move on, throw in the trips to the dairy farm for fresh cream, punctuated by the more than necessary stops at chimpu's for mango shake.

We're most of us Orkutters I presume. Well, either way, u must check out some of the scraps that the BITSian species leaves at the "sky-heaven on earth" comunity. The best thing about sky was that not everyone became a sky-person. You had to hav undergone sufficient wear and tear changing positions on the sky lawns. You had to hav chosen precisely the most important CDC class of ur student life to devote to the amoeba in order to finish that Terry Pratchett. You had to be possessed at 5 in the evening everyday to walk straight past FD-3 and through those gates, as if in a trance. And finally, you had to be able to say "ek veg moinneee dena rei.." just like only Pappu could. For the uninitiated, that's veg mayonnaise sandwich.

So, u'd think, every college has the good ol' canteen with memories peeping through from every corner. Well, to that, i say, not every one of them comes with a sun dial to laze and sun bathe on. Not all of those canteen's dirty blue green pools are used to good naturedly welcome the new department head. Ok, let's stretch it! None of them houses a Dakota!

By the way, i haven't even begun on IC yet!

I've heard the "conforming" argument often enough at BITS. Of how, by second year u've risen one rung in the evolution chart. The individual is lost and you can only think in groups. Of how, by the end of year two, you are steeped in department tradition, silly club rules, wing defined c'not behavior and well, the general lethargy. I cant claim all of it doesnt exist. But i also think that to grandly label the entire population is a gross generalisation.

If that were true, wud u believe me if i said a coupla crazy friends wore pink trousers and purple shirts a few days in a row simply 'cos they wanted to. That some only grew to enjoy solitary walks more and more as time passed by, never mind if the rest of college was watching "har dil jo pyaar karega". That a particular batchmate wore the most paint stained and food stained crumpled t-shirt on a monday morning, matched with 2" shorter than appropriate brown trousers becos the rats in the lab beckoned and everything else ceased to matter. What about the special final semester DW? The locally defined Kapoor chopsuey?

To top it al, the concept of zero attendance and the freedom to attend the lecture u liked. Everyone made his own decision. To make this clearer to me, a friend once said, " After all, everyday my friend and i wake up at 10, when the common hour's been kissed good bye. VK's abandoned at 5 to 11. I drop him off at FD-1 for a CDC i hate, and proceed to sky. When he's done with two hours of Ghotting, he comes over for the before lunch dum. And then of course, it's off to c'not for a two hour lunch. He's happy cos he's done his day's quota of classes. And I am 'cos i've done one fifth my day's quota at sky:) " They were part of a larger fun loving group of guys. They did a thousand different things and held a thousand different opinions. U'd find them occupying the hallowed parapets or "walls" in front of the c'not stores in the evenings. Hmm...i think for the greater part, they conformed to not conforming:)

True blue BITSianly, i could go on and on and on. And even more true blue BITSianly, i could feel psenti about a million other things. But then, v all hav our little potli of psenti things at BITS. I jst wanted to share a coupla mine that to me make the BITSian experience put simply, fun.

You see it all in a different light when u're on a new plane and absorbing a new system. Comparisons and contrasts showcase the uniqueness in full glare. I've just been able to soak in some in the seven months since i graduated. And i continue to believe, when it's time for fun, i'd love a liberal dose of the Pilani one!


Blogger srivats said...

Bravo ! well put. The sky days in the third year and fourth, one of the best i should say

2:55 AM  
Blogger Sridhar said...

Hey Bharti,

Nice blog. Hmm. Sky. I used to love that place. Sadly one day my department decided I'd be happier in the sky pond. I could never look sky in face again after that :D.

6:39 AM  
Blogger vivitsa said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:36 PM  
Blogger vivitsa said...

Wow!! that was soo well written.. conveyed in essence what I was trying in vain to pen.. !!!

4:37 PM  
Blogger chitra said...

once more the Bitsian succumbs to nostalgia. a very important question- if the things that we did in BITS were actually that much fun, then why is it that you cant convince people in the other places you go to that these are fun ways- for example if u did think baking cakes was more fun - then why would u buy cakes... why can't u convince your classmates that they too should indulge in this "fun-filled" activity. as far as i know the only reason we would bake cakes is coz there werent any good ones available (the ones from the baery had too much sugar and pathetic icing) and also coz we really had nothing else to do. most bitsian activities are a result of general lack of anything to do. which other college festival has so many man - hours invested in it?? obviously coz the other colleges have something better to do with their time. also i believe that the only reason some people did "weird" things in BITS was to conform to the "different" image they have.

yes i love sky too - it was my only refuge from the cacophony that was happening in the rest of the campus. but i would not be too proud to admit that it was more of an escape than a choice. if and when i ever go back to pilani i would spend most of my time in Sky, coz its a nice place to relax in when u have had way too much to do in life.however it isnt something i wud do day in and day out. that would be such a waste of life.

have bunked CDC classes too - just that i dont think i should have. i dont think it was "fun". i didnt go because i felt i didnt learn anything in them, and i sat in sky and read and write coz there was nothing better i could think of doing.whereas in school and during hols i always found more interesting things to do.

i guess there is little point arguing about these things. some people are satisfied with the cocoon and others arent. i guess that the way it is.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Sanketh said...

Seriously! Let people do what they want to! For some of us it represents fond memories. We'd like to keep it that way.

This doesn't mean we do socialize once we are out of Pilani. It is best not to generalize especially when you are yet to graduate.

You are entitled to your opinion nonetheless. I just didn't feel what you said applies to most people I have seen since I graduated last year!


9:56 PM  
Blogger Kumari said...

@Bharti: This is a lovely walk down memory lane. Thanks for the free trip.
@Chitra: "What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a Butterfly".

1:52 AM  
Blogger K. said...

Like Sanketh said....having passed out a few months back, most of these memories are so vivid that they do rear up their not-so-ugly heads time and again...That explains the lengthy odes to Pappu's veg moinneee( That had me in splits, Bharti...) sandwiches, Chimpoo's M'n'Bs, Nagarji's chais, those darned outstis, the even-more-darned CDCs etc etc...And of course, for some of us, it might be even the common hour that we missed or the tests that we took a make-up for or whatever....

The point being...I am sure I was going through the same thing right after I graduated out of my school..Maybe not with the same level of intensity....Now BITS being what it was, I am sure if I were to draw up a comparison chart on the degree of psenti-ness, it would beat the rest of the competitors hands down...but hey, that might not be the same with everyone..

And of course, there are possibilities that a couple of years down the line, there might be a lot more things to feel psenti about...You might have ended up having as much, if not more fun, in your other aspects of life..How it compares to the fun at bits, only time will tell...But one quick question...can you really compare these different kinds of fun? Aren't they really situation-based? i.e. Your state of mind, the people around you, the place you are at and all that jazz...?!

1:52 AM  
Blogger Tensor said...

I agree with most of what Chitra said...Disinterested profs who hardly know a thing; ZERO encouragement for research; Students for whom Oasis/departments/clubs represents the ultimate salvation; the horrible food (mess and c'not); the 'groups-based-on-language/department' stigma; petty politics; the 'We are as good as IIT' attitude, especially among senior faculty..are my most pronounced memories of bits!!

In fact, BITS taught me how NOT to be!!

PS: Not all was bad. I must mention that I came into contact with 5 amazing profs. They shaped my interests and helped me direct my career. Not surprisingly, their opinion of BITS is not very different from mine. 3 of them have left Pilani for good!

1:06 AM  
Blogger bharati said...

whoaaaaa!!! some reactions those...:))
and some very sweeping generalisations too...

for starters i dont think all i've mentioned covers even a fourth of the sources of fun at BITS...and my entire set of such sources wud b but a small subset of all tht's available...for not all of us have chosen to or had the time to indulge in evrything tht has the potential to b fun..also, i think having fun is but one essential component to please let's not escalate this write up to an attempt to describe BITSianness..i dont think one person can make a general definition of the same, to begin with...

i'd never imagine a situation of succumbing to nostalgia..i think most of the times i'm going down memory lane becos i'd like to remember a few things every now and then..and remind myself of a few lessons learnt's not like it's glorifying activity, by any stretch of imagination!

also, i think in our little ways, v all choose to spread the activities tht r fun for us...for instance, DW was a wonderful thing to do in final semester..and very fun too...and unique to BITS...and in my new school, a couple of us BITSians hav had lots of fun teaching and doing the jive, tango, etc with scores of others...i must add tht i've picked up a lot of other traditions tht were fun activities at other colleges...

to assume that everyone who was different was just trying so hard to be different is another unfair generalisation, in my opinion, and undermines the intelligence of everyone else...

i didnt mean to say not attending classes was fun...not attending one CDC and spending a lot of time in Sky doesnt equal the not attending class habit...:)
i was only trying to reiterate wht a senior once mentioned were two of his biggest takeaways from BITS...the freedom and the proximity...

and i simply must re-emphasise that thr's a lot of stuff u see about a system whn u hav the opportuinity to compare, and more importantly, whn u've had the chance to appreciate many similar things done differently in other systems...

i guess when everyone steps out of their 'respective' cocoons, they'll begin to see this better...:)

PS: i'm hoping to read some entries on the other unrelated controversial issues these reactions hav thrown up...anyone lissening?

5:38 AM  
Blogger Sanketh said...

As I see it there are two things one can do after graduating from Pilani:

1) Feel good about it and believe you are actually getting somewhere and cherish the time you spent there.
2) You crib and complain.

I did see my fair share of groups based on language and other weird affiliations but I find nothing odd with that. You form the groups you want to. Groups generally tend to form on some sort of common base. There has to be something people share.

I hate the way people belittle the faculty. It is one thing to joke around it is a different issue to belittle them. No matter who the person is I believe they always had something to teach and we had a lot to learn. Teaching takes a lot of committment and I believe such negativity is doing more damage to some faculty who given the time can improve for sure.

I for one don't have very high standards. I understand the frustration with the lack of research.
However I feel this is too small a time frame for us to pass judgement on our alma mater. We were there for all of 4/5 years. There have been people there before us and with all probability they will tell you the faculty they had were absolutely fabulous.
I feel the institution is in transition now. It is difficult for a private institution to remain competitive in India. Especially with the embarassment of riches that some government colleges enjoy. It will require a great deal of committment from the current management and alumni to generate funds that will attract talent to Pilani.
I believe the students at Pilani have great potential to be moulded into leaders in their respective fields. We need facutly who will take us there. There has been an exodus of sorts of late. I am sure everyone wants to do research but the funds just aren't there. I'd love to see greater alumni participation and greater efforts to generate money for research.
There is no point in complaining. We have to do something about it.
I take pride in the institution I belong to. Nothing is going to change that. I am aware of its short comings. I for one hope I can do something about it.


10:45 AM  
Blogger Sanketh said...

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10:49 AM  

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