Looking at the sea of fresh young faces standing in what appeared to be a mile long queue, I was not a little surprised could there so many students in an M.Tech. course? I turned pleading eyes to my guide, a third semester M.Tech. man, casually leaning against a marble pillar with a disdainful look on his face. Where upon he beckoned me with one lazy finger to follow him. Right up to the top of the queue we went, shouldering aside less fortunate mortals. He greeted the official at his desk warmly and was rewarded with a familiar nod. Like magic, several forms and papers appeared in my hand and I was soon registered, the No.1, ’numero uno’, of the thermal science class; while ordinary humans like my friend, Mahesh, who had arrived hours, may be days earlier had to content themselves waiting for hours, and then getting some un distinguished number like ten or twelve.
This flair for the short cut was inculcated, I later understood, into any and every IITian worth his salt. Tutorials would be given by professors who would smilingly hand you a ream of tutorial questions and casually ask you to submit the same, next day while you stood aghast.
The old IITian would take it in his stride “he was like this during B. Tech. too” one guy would enlighten us poor guys who have the incalculable misfortune (in their eyes) to have taken our B. Tech. elsewhere. And then the Alumnus would walk away with not a care in the world; while we would stand bemused by this genius who expected to find answers to 48 questions with 26 sub questions each, by the next day.
Later while you were drawing along sigh after fighting an epic battle with the questions and having managed to do them all without having to resort to psychiatric help, in saunters your old IITian; hands in pockets. “Oh by the way, old chap could you pass those tutorial sheets? You can have them back in a minute.” Later, you sit back dazed, as the efforts of a sleepless night disappear in the form of Xerox copies of your tutorial sheet into the cavernous jaws of the IITian’s bag.
You can find many students sauntering in the lawn when you come back from a sparsely attended lecture. Why didn’t you attend you ask. ”He is an old bore, why don’t you Xerox today’s notes and give it to us?” How could you not oblige such brilliant minds that can look down upon a professor with years of experience?
Take the hostels next. It is populated of creatures that emerge only for food and lock the door the moment they enter their rooms. Their names were daily called out by the professors, but silence would inevitably be the reply. ”Why don’t they come for the classes?” I once asked an old IITian “Bah! They have much better things to do.” replied that infant prodigy. ”Like what?” queried I, much intrigued by an occupation better than studying for post graduation in engineering in the most prestigious technical institution in the country. The reply shattered me. Quoth the sage “Preparing for the I.A.S.!”