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Welcome to IISER Kolkata’s APC Roy Boys’ Hostel – housing 300 of the brightest minds of the country in a 3 storied – 2 winged building. Here you would find the marvelous gray matters doing everything but studying. There are many interesting aspects to the life at APC Roy like the ‘ultra-mechanized’ students’ canteen, the bathroom singers and the colorful language of ours… Not to forget the frequent and regular ‘snake encounters’. This feature is unique to our hostels. Since our arrival here, we have been acclimatized to seeing snakes to an extent that now we seemingly don’t fear them (probably it is the other way round). People say that the life must be great as we are the holders of the largest scholarship in the country. But alas they miss out one of the vital pains of our hearts – The struggle to hold on to the scholarship…

Early August: Session begins

Summer Vacations have ended… People sharing experiences of the ‘research projects’ they underwent – well theoretically. In reality…

SDG: Dude! That is what you call a beauty… Smoking Hot! I’m telling you, she’s going to be mine within weeks… Just wait and watch

MP: Don’t tell me… I have heard it time and again. Give me a break…

SDG: No man this time it is serious… Just wait and watch…

AS: Great man! I see determination in your voice!

SDG: Don’t you?

AS: Sure… So when is the treat?

SDG: In the next life… You moron!

Late August to Early September

This is when the heat rises… the hunt for internships begin. We need to do an internship each year to extend out fellowships. But as it always happens… there is a small problem… who will take us?

AS: So, what about next year?

SDG: Hmm… Would have to apply again! What the hell! Not again!

SG: Why now? Relax… We have just finished one…

MP: We have to hurry up… don’t want to be in a hurry like the last year.

September to March

This is the peak time for applications. The process starts off by a careful selection of mentors: their work, profile, availability etc. Everyone starts with high hopes. As usual there are a few lucky chaps who get their internships early and as usual… this puts on additional pressure on the rest of them. Time passes by and down go the hopes as each one awaits a single positive response. Those lucky are envied. Mails are sent more frequently and (more importantly) more randomly. Terms of friendship change…

MP (as usual peeping through the window): Any mails as yet? (Mail=Positive Response)

SDG: There is one I received, but it says that the lab is full…

MP: Heard that SP has got one…

AS: What the… Why always him? UM has got one too… SM is deciding between Stanford and Max Planck…

SDG: As usual, I am doomed…

MP: So am I, 50 mails; 2 responses; both negative

SDG: What the hell do they write to get one?

AS: I don’t understand why the Profs don’t reply? Do they ever read the mails or do they filter out all our mails?

One fine day when AS lazily was strolling outside his room; SG literally comes running to him and jumps onto him with ecstasy…

SG: Got it! Got it! A positive response from Caltech!

AS (with an expression too weird to describe): That’s great! Fantastic!

SG: I was browsing hopelessly for a professor somewhere, as all of a sudden my mailbox shows of this new new mail… Yippee…

AS: Well done man!

AS returns to the room with a hung face; and declares

AS: SG… Caltech…

MP (who has not got an internship yet): Oh no! Not Caltech! How can he… I mean… SG is going to CALTECH???

SP (who has got one): OK, that’s fine… What is the fuss all about?

AS: Shut up you moron!

One of the most pathetic situation is that of a person whose both the room-mates are going abroad and he is struggling hard to get one even within the country. Amidst all the mutual discussions of the visa process, air tickets and dreams of the foreign land; the one on the receiving end finds himself in an ocean of utter discomfort. Helplessly staring as a deer, he turns to one who never disappoints him – the pair of earphones – and tries to shield himself from the ‘noise’ (although he nostly doesn’t succeed…). At this moment it is only natural to realise the truth of the famous dialogue from the movie 3 idiots

Agar dost fail ho jaye to dukh hota hai… Par agar dost first aa jaye to aur jyada dukh hota hai…

Although the emotions, the disappointment and the disgust is only transient and temporary, one gets the true feeling of restlessness as he journeys through…

I feel I will miss these days when I pass out. This hunt has taught us a lot… How to write mails – LOTS OF MAILS; How to negotiate; What does it mean to try desperately and above all How does a hard earned success feel like…

Disclaimer

All the people named here are very very good friends of mine. The article is an earnest attempt to bring a smile on your face and is meant to be taken in good humour. No inferences whatsoever must be drawn on the nature, character etc. of all those named (if you ever get to know their real names).