My IIT Kanpur Memoir

This is my first Article on Medium. I am sharing my article from As We Leave 2020 .

As We Leave is a perfect way to relish campus memories, and through this, Vox populi has given me the platform to share my 4-year experiences which will hopefully be both relatable and useful for the reader. I would like to take the readers for a campus tour, show them the places and tell my stories attached to them.

Presenting to you these places in a way I will remember them forever.

Let’s start with the Main Auditorium:

This was the very place where my Mom and Dad left their pampered son to mature into a man. I remember myself standing upright, wearing a big logo t-shirt while carrying a spiky hairstyle, gazing at the grandeur of the institute. Right then, a senior asked me to get onto the stage and do ball-dance ‘alone’. Listening to this, I was so scared of the embarrassment about to fall upon me. It took a lot more of such tasks for me to open up and quit worrying about people’s opinions. Those interactions with seniors taught me something no teacher could ever teach.

Academic Area Road:

Those outstretched roads bring back the memories of Treasure Hunt night out. Even today, I could still hear myself bragging about how I would be the Programming Club Coordinator and represent IITK in Inter IIT for Table Tennis. Spoiler Alert: None of this happened but what happened was better than all my plans.

The Faculty Building:

This walled building gathered most of the student crowd during the ADD-DROP period, with everyone requesting professors to accept their course. Other than such visits, I had one such incident here that shaped my approach towards academics. I was once collecting my exam copies from the Professor’s office. Utterly displeased with my marks, I exclaimed that I hate this course and just want to get done with it. To my surprise, the professor laughed and hence explained that no student can excel in a course without developing a genuine interest in it. For compulsory courses, the student must introspect to find what perspective of the course interests him and pursue the course along those lines. As for the choice of Electives, the highest priority must be given to one’s interest in the subject. His advice was opposite to the popular belief where we took courses for good grading policies and familiar classmates. I took his suggestion and not only did my grades improve further but so did the knowledge I got from every succeeding course.

The Library, CC and CCD:

My exam preparations used to be centred in these places for the first two years. Even after sipping two shots of coffee at CCD, I still remember dozing off with more than half the syllabus remaining! These places break your overconfidence and mould it into your intelligence. It is certainly assumed that with the right lecture notes and course book, one can somehow hack the course structure and get an A with bare minimum preparation. But in my perspective, this approach can only get someone an average grade. The differentiator for grades is always the learning one gets from being attentive in class. In my experience, there is no replacement for attending classes.

Hall-5 : Parent Hall:

This place has been my home for the first 3 years and it holds so many memories. It all started with my room- C101, my first ever accommodation at IITK and the wing’s C-bot where I met my new family, my wingmates. Every memory of it makes me nostalgic, from the beautiful peacocks that roamed everywhere around and even visited my room for sneaky snacking, the mess that took care of my nutrition, the canteen which provided a rescue from my midnight food cravings, to the quad where I was first introduced to the concept of ‘Hall Feeling’. It is this ‘Hall Feeling’ that people within a hall uphold, irrespective of where they come from, their caste, their age or their academic year. It gives a sense of togetherness and unites people to pursue a common goal through Inter-Hall Competitions. The feeling of singing the ‘Hall Anthem’ in the quad would always give me goosebumps. I am sure wherever I go, this ‘Hall Feeling’ will stay with me and I will always be a ‘Mughal’.

Hall-9 : Final Hall:

This place was witness to the most nervous phase of my IITK life a.k.a Placements. The tempest of those numerous tests, pre-placement talks, resume short listings, and interview cracking ‘gyaan’ can overwhelm anyone and I was no exception. I remember crying myself to sleep when I couldn’t get the job offer I thought was ‘just perfect’ for me. But as the interviews came closer, I was able to handle both rejections and shortlisting with a calm mind. Then came D-Day! I remember myself sitting there among many other deserving candidates. At that particular point, I could see people carrying everything, ironically, from handmade notes to even Hanuman Chalisa! But keeping all the nervousness at bay, I took a deep breath, grabbed my confidence and went in. I came out all ecstatic! I was selected for a great job.

I have learnt one thing from all the interviews, ranging from internships to placement. The companies don’t need the most skilled person, because no matter how much you learn, your learning would be less than 10 percent of what you are going to do as an employee. Rather, they look for a person who will be the best fit for their organisation. The person who can handle pressure, communicate his thoughts and collaborate with people. And this can’t be learnt through any course but only from experiences. I learnt to handle pressure because of the fest’s Core Team interviews, to communicate my thoughts through course presentations and to collaborate with people during my involvement with fashion events. These things weren’t part of my resume but were part of me and that had made all the difference.

Student Activity Centre and OAT :

This was the place where I realised my inclination towards the field of Fashion. This henceforth turned out to be an unexpected passion I was devout to pursue! Back to square one, I remember waiting in the line for my audition walk for the Freshers Night: Fashion show, acclaimed to be the flagship event. For my turn, I did the best impression of a wannabe’s ramp walk and was rejected outrageously. This was my only chance to get onto the stage because I felt I wasn’t fit for other events. I asked the senior for a second chance and earned myself 24 hours to prepare. I needed to replace any of the shortlisted ones to acquire a spot. It took me an entire night to master my preparations. I even owed a treat to my wingies, who helped me and monitored my walk as I practised to get the gist of the task. Next day, I got the spot and later went on to being the showstopper! The moment I stepped into the limelight, there was no coming back for me. I wanted to feel what it is like to be on stage, to be the focus of everybody’s energy out there. In my next 4 years, I did professional and non-professional photoshoots, took part in fashion shows as a model, choreographed shows and represented IITK on the stages of Ritambhara, Impressionate and even Inter IIT. I will always be grateful for that second chance which evoked my journey into this world of fashion.

Counselling Service Office:

Everyone has their ups and downs and so did I. There was a time when I felt strangely alone on the entire campus. I stopped paying attention to my academics or the positions of responsibilities I held. The energy I had during my IIT JEE days till my 1st year was subsided and I was exhausted amidst the rush. Consecutive zeros in two of my quizzes made me reach out to Counselling Service for help. The sessions I attended there, not only consoled me but also introduced me to an unstated fact, that everyone is alone. This fact limits not only on the campus but in life as well. Each of us has different paths and destinations and while our paths may run parallel for some time but they have to diverge at one end. Such knowledgeable counselling sessions cleared my head, pushed me out of my sombre phase and helped me regain my lost energy.

Visitor’s Hostel:

This place will always remind me of my time as a member of the Public Relations team. This was the reason I could meet many amazing people from the field of sports, education, stand up comedy to singing. I remember spending an entire day with Olympic Gold Medalist Abhinav Bindra and having long engaging conversations with him about how he stays focused and aces each of his matches with such precision and ease. I thus learnt the art of staying calm in all situations from him, ‘the Arjun’ of our era. Adding to this, ICC Umpire of the Year awardee Simon Taufel mentored me during my 2nd year when I was confused about my career goals. He advised me to not be affected by people around and follow whatever my gut tells me. He illustrated it with times when he did not reconsider his decision based on the bowler, the batsman or even the importance of the match. I also remember interactions with Dr Meinolf Sellmann and being featured in a section of his presentation entitled ‘The Campus Angels’. With candid pictures of me and my colleague, the section highlighted how we supported him throughout his campus stay. There are many more similar memories but I fall short of words to list them throughout! These people will continue to be my source of inspiration and motivation.

Main Ground and Gym:

Those compulsory P.E.s at this huge ground were really a pain to attend, but they actually started my fitness regime. Just around the corner stands the Old Sports Complex’s Gym that has witnessed my physique transformations throughout, from a protruding belly to well-built abs. This place helped me retrieve the fitness I lost during my JEE days!

Main Auditorium Revisit:

This is where my story will conclude. Besides my Orientation, Felicitations, Comedy Nights and even my Convocation(hopefully), I would love to remember this place as my Ritambhara stage! Standing on the 5 steps long ramp, in front of the judging panel and a massive audience, I could still hear myself saying ‘I stand here, as a proof that if an IITian wants to achieve something, he won’t stop until he gets it.’ This will always remain the day I proved all the naySayers wrong.

Dear Readers,

Here are a few takeaways from my journey in the end:

1) Things may not go as you have planned but I ensure that they would end up better.

2) Interest is the most important ingredient for your academic excellence.

3) The responsibilities you choose to take will shape your personality.

4) The campus has help for everyone and you just need to ask for it.

5) Keep trying new things, you never know what unexpected thing will do the magic for you.

6) You may be the average among your peers but you are the best the country has.

7) Interacting with diverse campus junta can give you lessons for life.

With the pleasant memories of cheering ‘IIT Kanpur Ka Tempo High Hai’ at OAT;

This is me, Aayu Kharbanda signing off.

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An ambitious 22 year old trying to disrupt education industry.

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Aayu Kharbanda

Aayu Kharbanda

An ambitious 22 year old trying to disrupt education industry.

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