The Dichotomy of Fame

It’s been a while since I found myself in a room with four seniors, who made me question what I really believed in and stood for in life. They have been gone for a while now, but that conversation stays with me and will probably do so, for the rest of my life. I find myself in their shoes now, albeit incapable of causing the discomfort that leads one to the road to self-discovery as they were.

There is something different about this August at Pilani. The excessively unbearable and unexpected heat, the indulgence of rain before FundaFin lectures, or the inherent jadedness that creeps in after two weeks of interactions, especially if one is a third year, may have done their bit, in that regard.  There is only so much knowledge that one can impart and so many interesting people that one can meet. There comes a point, when mundaneness and monotony start seeming desirable.

Having eight courses doesn’t help matters, I believe. That compounded with my strengthened resolve to pursue an MBA leading to my weekends being spent holed up in a birthday hall posing as an auditorium, makes me pine for the relative serenity of second year. As serene as EEE allowed it to be, in any case. A lot has transpired since I last copied Vikram Seth’s idea penned down my thoughts. As always, the bullets shall do the talking:-

  • A lower berth shall never be yours if you have an aunty in your compartment.
  • Federer turned 35. Federer’s out of the Olympics. Federer’s done for the season. So am I.
  • A crash course in racism MBA-101. Every competitive exam creates a white person and a black person inside all of us. Guess who is egoistic and adamant on attempting all the questions?
  • Mattressless beds are tough to lie upon, tougher to fall asleep on. More so, if you have nothing but two bags in the room. Wonderful for thinking, though, I must add.
  • Lectures are enlightening, if you’re not listening. Or listening to things the right way.
  • Sehwag’s already more consistent on Twitter than he ever was in ODIs.


Hindsight does weird things to you. You think, you regret, occasionally rejoice, and then think some more. You wish you could change a few things, tweak a few conversations, but you can’t. I’d spent my first few days on campus avoiding summons to rooms at night (which I now regret) and squabbling with my roommate (which I don’t). To be fair to him, I was a paradox. I was gullible to “deception” by seniors, yet extremely aggressive when questioned and corrected by them. Ego, I tell you.

‘The Winner Stands Alone’. A Paulo Coelho book that I never read, and yet deluded myself into liking, largely due to the title resonating with a belief that every Indian student is well acquainted with. Second best is not good enough. The ends justify the means. To quote Vikram Seth from A Suitable Boy, “In India, we believe that the way to rise is to drag someone else down.”

We take pride in being a part of one of the finest academic institutions in the country and one with arguably the best campus culture, at that. We are amongst the smartest minds that the country has to offer, a group of (relatively) like minded individuals who believe in fairness, who aren’t afraid of speaking their mind and can distinguish right from wrong. We have even made our peace with the incessant questions about our college and its location.

Why then, does it all go to the dogs for three weeks at the beginning of each academic year? As ambitions and the lure of power rear their heads, the morals go for a toss, and all that seems to matter, is winning. People choose ‘camps’ over friendships. A debate becomes a rag. Characters are maligned, accusations and allegations made. Every day brings with it a new email, whose supposed purpose is to enlighten people and help them make an informed choice, and its actual aim is to achieve exactly the opposite. The levels we stoop to.

Over the past two years, I’ve seen Mr. Seth being proved right, time and again. This year was no different. It’s as if the gullibility of my first year version has manifested itself in the current first year batch. And the refusal to being corrected, in their seniors. You would believe that having experienced the hallowed three weeks, firsthand for two years, would have taught us to get our priorities right. But it hasn’t. That’s terribly dumb, for some of the brightest minds in the country.

To expect one to be completely fair in a competitive environment like ours would be Utopian, but I thought that we all knew where the line between sketchy and downright atrocious lay. Apparently, not. The only losers in this scenario are the ones who do. Every ‘confrontation’, every in-your-face victory jig in front of a hapless opponent, every attempt at tarnishing each other’s reputation, does irrevocable damage to the fifty two year old legacy that we take pride in. One day probably, we’ll learn to look at the things that matter, and “We are only as good as the world allows us to be”, shall no longer be an excuse.

Until then,  let’s revel in the self-inflicted mediocrity.


2 thoughts on “The Dichotomy of Fame

  1. Interesting. Being a fourth year I am unaware of any exact details but I understand the gist. From my experience I can tell you things work out fine after a few months. People eventually shake hands and let go. Also really enjoyed a couple of other blog posts. There should be some sort of RSS feed of all BITSian blogs. Keep writing!


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