Thursday, May 18, 2006

Anna University – My Alma Mater

Anna University – Our Intellectual Mother

I have not blogged for a long time and I really wanted to write something. So I was thinking about something profound to write about. I thought about a lot of things but finally I decided that one of the profound things that happened to me was my undergraduate education. When I think about my college I literally get mixed feelings: glory, grit, guts, gaiety, gadgets etc. :-D. When I look back on my life, it indeed seems so obviously evident that most of the things which define my life as it happens right now have been inevitably shaped by my college. Well here is the list of reasons why I feel my college had a definite role in the way I am:
  1. I really stepped into the world only after coming to college. School was of course great in its own way. But it was in college that I really met the world. In school I have always been cloistered in stuffy rooms and shuttled between home and school in cocooned vehicles. My world was defined by academic and non-academic books, teachers, parents and church. On top of this my school was less than 1 km from my house. I somehow feel that I lost myself in this microcosm. It was only when I came to college that I finally got to see the city itself. Life is indeed a study of contrasts. My college was 15 km away from my house. I traveled throughout my 4-year B.E. course in public buses. Somehow I feel it was during this time that I really opened up to the world. I remember those days in which a couple of us studying at Anna will cuddle into a crowded bus in a sweaty Chennai afternoon and watch the city go-by by the comfort of a window seat. Some of the things that I relish even now during these long bus journeys are the following: The times when we used to test Raghuram’s arithmetic skills by giving him two random 4 digit-numbers and ask him the product. Inevitably we run of numbers and we finally come to a position where we are have to resort to using the numbers from the license plates of passing vehicles..:-) And then there were those days when I used to listen spellbound as Hemanth expounded his latest crush which will typically be how Stephen Hawking’s ideas of Space and Time apply to the Space-Time complexities of Computer Science. And of course there is the spectacle of simple life going about in the bus. Different people in their different ways sharing a single roof just for a few minutes.
  2. I grew out of Christianity. I think my previous article talks about this in more detail. As I said earlier, there were several reasons for this. But among those several reasons the one that cannot be discounted was the candid discussions we had among ourselves. Some of us were outright crazy. If I mention the content of some of the discussions, I really feel Sigmund Freud would feel embarrassed. Of course we had disagreements. Even to this day. But we all felt mutually comfortable having these discussions. Some of these discussions continue to this day. Also a lot my long standing convictions changed during college.
  3. The third reason why I felt that my college changed the way I am was because, it hallmarked the change in my attitude. It was not a sudden change. In fact I did not realize the change had happened until it was over. In school I was always the best student. As was every other student in my college…J. I guess this should sort of set the tone for what is to follow. In school, I was looked upon as a whiz kid. A sort of nerd who always gets the best marks, finishes all the homework and ad nauseam. And even among my family, I was like an icon. I really did not think that this has gone into my head. But nevertheless when I entered college I was greeted by the real hard-hitters. And it was during this time that I was treated as a normal being who does not always get the highest marks. For perhaps the first time in my academic life, I basked in the simplicity of being mediocre. (At least speaking relatively) That’s not to say that I consciously bunked classes or whatever. I was just the same. I was trying to get myself good grades; I was trying to get myself into good job. It was just that people around me were not gushing with encomiums whenever I go near them. And I felt very comfortable about this.
  4. Then there is this whole creativity thing. Unlike what you will hear from most people who will be saying that all they got from college was their friends and nostalgia; it would be correct to say I learnt my trade in my college. When I entered my college I have barely seen a computer for more than a couple of times. I can unequivocally say that almost everything that I know about computers, I learnt it during college. We had some of the great teachers and some of the worst teachers taking the classes. Some were worthy of worship as they poured out the tricks of the trade before us. These were the people who were teaching because somehow teaching really made sense to them. For them it was a conscious choice. Several of these good teachers had work experience at industry and it was an intellectual treat to attend their classes. And at the other end of the spectrum were some folks who were into this teaching thing because they are not good enough for the industry. I would rather not talk about them. On some random day as I would be traveling in the company shuttle to my work place, I found myself uttering a silent song of gratitude to all these people. Of course there was this other way of learning things: Friends. I believe I learned more things hanging around with friends while doing some project than from formal academics. We did a lot of projects. I had my share of crazy projects. Like a group of robots playing football against each other. ;-) It was our first experience with technical collaboration. I remember how it felt when I first ran an executable which was generated by the compiler that we wrote. The program was supposed to draw a line. And the feeling was priceless. To say the least.
  5. One more that which defined our college (at least during those days) was the fact that it was one free country. We had no dress code. We could bunk classes if we wanted and spend our time in the library. I remember spending most of my time either in the library or in the hostel. I remember my aversion to formal grooming started with the college. My outrageously informal dressing sense had its beginnings in my college. And it continues till date.
  6. Last but not the least. (This is really a no-brainer) When I look at my CEG experience, if there was one thing which made the whole thing tick, it was the bunch of students who were part of our class. I got the chance to get acquainted with some of the most colorful and remarkable folks I have ever met in my life. I can clearly see that these friendships are for a lifetime. Some of these friends challenge me. Some of them reassure me. Some of them make me think. Some of them make me gape. Some of them make me cry. Some of them make me roll on the floor laughing. Inevitably all of them left a mark on me.

When I look back upon my college, I can clearly say that I have no regrets whatsoever. Not even my mediocre 7.9 CGPA(I am not proud of my CGPA though). We had the time of our lifetime. I really hope that Guindy Engineering College continues to be the melting pot of the best students in the country.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good One!!! You made to think of my college days.
-Karthi

Gokulakrishnan S said...

hmmm....

Prasanna said...

oh! very nice one, makes me wanna get back to college

Parthiban said...

antoji, you got it written for me. I can't help but thinking abt our 4th sem stint in the first bench middle row - me, you and bag@ss - and we had a tuf fight to see who performed the worst - in the end bag@ss stole the award with 3E's. Nice days. The real furnace days. When we willingly melted and shaped! Nice recollection. Thanks Anto.

Anonymous said...

Parthiban is wrong! I was awarded three E's in the seventh and not the fourth semester. I remember that infact it was you(Anto) who did the worst that semester, among the three of us that is, coming perilously close to being awarded a cup in EE :-D

BAghu

Anand Prabhu said...

that was an awesome writeup (P)anto ;)

We learnt a lot outside classroom compared to what we learnt in class IMHO.

Takes me back to the golden period of my life.... :)

Anonymous said...

so you had a taste of 47d...huh!!

good blog..

cheers.

Shankar Sridhar said...

machi, nee 47D naan 21G :-)
really gud.. i went down memory lane!

airanand said...

great blog man.. always good to think of those days (and we are still only 2 yrs out of college :))

Ganesh said...

first time here
I read through some of your post
very impressive.
Esp the one about Da Vinci Code was deep.

keep up the good work.

mishi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mishi said...

he he, refreshes many memories! inevitably everyones wade through this pool of ppl, a set of which we start worshipping and others we wouldn't wish to talk abt.
And then after a few years, you feel grateful to each n everyone, for whatever they did to you, cos life wouldn't have been this colorful w/o them.

Rams said...

Everything covered by previous comments.
Nice topic to be written by every blogger...

Satish Reddy said...

oh!! nice one just completed my graduation and i felt that u depicted mine...

MonkeyPaw said...

senti blog man.. keep it up.. :-)

KP said...

Excellent post which reminded me my college days

Naren said...

Cool blog da... I can remember some of the days we used to travel to Guindy in those buses.. I do miss them now..

Anonymous said...

Very nice site!
» »