Amidst mighty downpour, the likes of which I had never seen in my life, I walked into NITK, not knowing what to expect from the institution, or myself, in the 4 years to come.
The initial couple of months were a period of several firsts, from easier ones like the first shared room and the first “lavatory conversation” to harder ones like the first bland, yet surprisingly fulfilling meal and the first rainwater harvesting attempt, for when the water supply was less than modest. The first that I am most thankful for, however, is the set of conversations in corridors, on the football ground, on canteen tables and classroom benches that streamed by so effortlessly, as if they weren’t going to be the beginning of some of the fondest memories of my life.
As months went by, I was increasingly beginning to find myself in the company of the same few. The gang, if you will. Confident prodigies, reserved introverts, mysterious poker-faces and flamboyant party animals, the gang hand them all. We played, explored, debated, conversed aimlessly through days and nights and occasionally, studied. I was starting to experience what years down the line, I would come to know as the real and actual “college experience.”
The most enriching aspect of my NITK experience was the company of some of the most brilliant and inventive people I had ever met. In any room that I was in, I found myself surrounded by people better than me. Everybody was pacing towards their purpose. Some found it on the strings of their guitar, some found it in the circuits of their robots, while some others found it under the lights of the library. Everybody was onto something. There was palpable liveliness in the air of NITK. Across activities, sports, academics, leadership and art, the talent pool there was incredible. I found myself getting increasingly drawn towards all the various avenues for extra-curricular activities. I was fortunate enough to find people with similar interests, who were committed to building and developing these avenues for the benefit of the student community. The result was that the same set of 20 odd students had organized the first ever MUN in the college (which went on to become an annual event), organized the first ever Literary Fest (albeit with debatable success) and ran an unofficial student media body (Albeit, highly controversial), among many others. Successful and failed endeavors alike costed sleepless nights, weeks spent on the roads of Mangalore chasing potential sponsors, hours spent at the Printing Press and several evenings spent at the Pavilion. Looking back, I realize that the best way to spend your time in a place full of dynamic people is to simply be in their midst as much as possible, and I am glad I did just that. It also costed me a shot at improving my academics, and my inability to strike that balance is my favorite failure from college, one I hope to never repeat.
I believe that when we are in an environment that is conducive to passion and hard work, we do not observe how it changes us, as it continuously and subtly always does. We fail to appreciate the little ways in which the people, places, things, conversations, memories, successes, failures, heartbreaks and reprimands mold us into better people, the ones we think we consciously have made ourselves. After 4 wonderful years at NITK, the first time this occurred to me was in a cab, on the way to the airport, minutes after leaving the gates of NITK as a student for the last time, not even giving me a chance to look back and say “thank you”. Speaking of which …
Amidst mighty downpour, the likes of which I had gotten very used to over the last 4 years, I walked out of NITK, not knowing what to expect from life ahead, or myself. Despite that, there was a strong sense of certainty that things would go just right, no matter what. All is well. NITK had me prepared.