This is not just a blog post. This is a story. In fact, a bloody long one. Let me begin this story from an Uncyclopedia quote.
“You think getting into IIT is difficult? Try getting out, bitch!” -disgruntled IITian on IIT
A mail on June 27th from my project guide made my eyes almost pop out. In shock. In utter shock. Let me quote an excerpt from the mail:
…since you have missed the deadline by several days (given that you still have some additions to make you will not be done till early July), you will therefore be ineligible to graduate this year…
He was talking about the thesis submission deadline; the thesis for my B. Tech plus M. Tech project. The extended deadline was 20th of June, a Friday. Almost all my classmates had already ended up submitting their thesis at least by 22nd, a Monday. I, on the other hand, had only been able to send a soft-copy of the third draft of my thesis on 27th, a week after the extended deadline.
Yes, my guide was right. I indeed had delayed things by several days. My pre-thesis project work had been over since quite sometime. In fact more than a month back. But when it came to writing it all, compiling my research in the form of a thesis, it just never took off very well. It dragged and it dragged. The sad part was that just when I had caught the tempo and regained the enthusiasm to jot down all the knowledge gained, just when things had started to go at a good pace (remember my declaration about finishing things off by May end?), the time to join family for an already planned Andaman vacation arrived. The thesis wasn’t yet ready but I had like twenty more days to get the job done. At the pace that I had picked up finally, twenty days time was more than enough.
I guess I took it easy. I could have asked dad to leave me out for the vacation. I didn’t. Thus began the vacation and in ten days it ended too.
If you ask me, I still had enough time to wrap things up after my Andaman trip. I was back to Chennai on the afternoon of 8th June. But do you know what happened? After coming back, I was caught up in the vacation mood, and let me tell you, caught up real bad. I mean, in the morning I was in Port Blair and by afternoon, I was in my room sitting in front of my laptop trying to work! It just didn’t work this way. I could only edit videos and blog about my trip. I just couldn’t make myself do any real work. For one full week.
So yeah, things got delayed. And amidst everything, I was also busy doing plays. There were rehearsals daily. But then all these are excuses. The vacation, the play, everything. Mere excuses. I delayed my thesis and I was the only person to be blamed. That was okay but the deal with the degree, sounded kinda big. It was big, wasn’t it?
The very idea of not getting a degree this year was depressing. Why else had I come to IIT? I did not know how to react. I did not know what to reply to my project guide. I had already disappointed him so much throughout the project phase. He knew I had the potential. I knew I had the potential. What had gone wrong then? Why was I doing plays when I should be devoting all my time in writing my thesis? Why wasn’t the work output showing up? I did not reply.
Two days after sending the mail that gave hints of myself losing out on my degree, he sent back comments on the third draft of the thesis. That was Monday. June 30th. Final printed copies of my thesis were submitted only later on Friday. It was July now. 4th of July. That’s when the endless wait for the project viva began.
By this time I had already vacated my hostel room and moved to my flat. After 4th of July and up till 14th, full ten days, I didn’t have much to do besides play rehearsals in the evenings and cooking all day. Ten days passed. I performed in Bangalore on 13th July, a Sunday. I started working from 14th, a Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday.
Friday. I got a mail. My viva presentation could be held on the coming Tuesday. That’s what my guide’s mail said. I had started working on the presentation long back. By Monday, I had spent more than 20 hours on the presentation. Monday, 21st of July. Convocation was scheduled for 25th of July. I had already stopped thinking about the degree. All I wanted to do was get done from my side; go give the goddamn viva, get any grade and get rid of the insti. After getting a grade for my project, I would at least have gotten a provisional certificate that would have enabled me to prove that I had successfully completed everything. Over a period, I had somehow convinced myself that the timing of the degree didn’t much matter, if not this year then next year. Over a period, I had forced myself to believe that not getting a degree was NOT a big deal. How else could have I stayed calm? How else could have I gathered the courage to tell my dad and mom who were planning to come to the convocation all the way to Chennai, to see their son dressed up in the graduand’s gown and receiving two degrees, that they shouldn’t come. I made it sound all very cool. I had fed my brain with the idea that the provisional certificate was all that I cared for, that convocation was just another day. Everything changed yesterday. Yesterday was a Wednesday. But before that, I should tell you what happened on Tuesday. July 22nd.
At 1 PM, I left for IIT from my office. At 2 PM, my viva presentation began. By 3:15 everything was done. Everyone was impressed. I had finished the work. Everyone was satisfied, or so they acted. After the presentation was over, my guide called me to his office and gave the parting fundays of life. I would summarize his take on me in the following way:
- I had the potential and he had seen it in the only class of his that I had a year back (I had got 10/10 in that course)
- I was erratic, lacked consistency.
- Given that I started real work on my project only in March 2008, the work that I had done was exceptional. Only if I had done the same amount of task, spread over a year, starting from August 2007, he would have given me an A grade or even more.
- In insti, things work even if you have the ability to do all you work in the last few months for a year long project or last few days in smaller projects. But in the real world, people look for consistency. Since I already was good enough, all I needed was the ability to maintain the goodness. Otherwise, a reputation builds up. In the beginning of the career, people don’t know. But gradually over a period of time, everyone in the industry gets to know about the abilities and weaknesses of various people. A good reputation pushes you up, a bad one, kills you.
I was happy that my guide and myself were friends again. I was happy that my viva was finally over and my work appreciated.
Wednesday. Yesterday. 23rd July 2008.
I got a one-line mail in the afternoon as I opened my inbox from office. It had been sent from my guide and it said:
sent the grades in yesterday – check with insti – there is a chance that you will be able to get your degree this convo
What? WHAT? There was a chance of myself getting a degree this convo? Suddenly all the convincing that I done about not getting a degree being not a big deal sublimed. Suddenly there was hope. Two days before the convocation, I still could do something and get my degree. Degrees. Two of them. A B. Tech in Civil Engineering. An M. Tech in Infrastructural Civil Engineering. Post-lunch, I rushed to insti. There were forms to be filled, no-dues receipts to be collected. All of that took quite some time. From two till six in the evening, I was busy running from this lab to that, department to ad block to Alumni office to CCW to Tapti Hostel. Tapti hostel is a story in itself. By 5:45 I had all the documents needed but one. The other document was with this friend in Tapti who was not picking up his calls. Ad-block, where I was supposed to submit all documents would close by six. I just didn’t have enough time to reach Tapti, wake him up (assuming that the only reason he wasn’t picking up the call was that he was crashing in his room), collect the document, come back and submit everything. I had almost started giving up.
That’s okay. Degree is no big deal. Let it be. The brain had started to switch to that convincing mode once again. But I was lucky. Nita had joined me in the running business at five. It had been long since I had caught up (a month) with her and since she happened to be in insti, we had decided to meet. At 5:45 when I didn’t know what to do, her sarkaari car with laal batti, came to my rescue. The Ambassador took us to Tapti, I banged on his door, he indeed had been crashing, I snatched the document from him, we reached Ad-block. 5:49 pm. At 6 pm, everything was done. From my side. I still didn’t know if I would get a degree. The Ad-block needed time to process. I left. I was back to office at 6:30. At 7:15 PM I got a call. From ad-block.
No. It wasn’t a call telling me I was getting a degree. When has life been so simple? When has life been fair? When have hopes been met? You screw up things, you suffer. That’s the way it works. That’s the way it has always worked.
My revised and final grade card and been printed. But it was 7:15 and the official without whose signature the grade-card wouldn’t be rendered complete had left office. I was supposed to reach ad-block by 7:30. I had fifteen minutes. It was impossible. After the official’s sign, I also needed to get a copy of the grade card signed by my Faculty Adviser (Facad).
I called up few who were there in insti to help me out. Help came my way. MLD rushed to ad-block just before they were about to shut it off. But, he was not given the grade-card.
Today. Thursday. 24th of July.
Distribution of the convocation gown began today. In Narmada Hostel Computer room. Only for students who were cleared for convocation. I wasn’t. At 9:10 in the morning I was there. I was told that my grade card had been left in the official’s table and that I should rush to ad-block and get it signed and then I would be cleared for convo and that I could get my degree the next day. After about two more hours, I finally had the gown in my hands. I finally will be getting my degree tomorrow. Tomorrow is 25th of July. Tomorrow is the convocation. Tomorrow is my birthday.
As I walked down the wing of Narmada, the hostel that had been home for the last four years, I brought the gown close to my lips and planted a soft kiss. I could almost feel a trace of tear somewhere inside the eyes.
Twenty four more hours to go before the insti gives me the best birthday present of my life. Tomorrow, on 25th of July, I shall turn 25 and I shall become a post-graduate. Three cheers to life and welcome to the party. 😀