Sriram K shares his experiences of living at the IIT Madras campus, from being a shy and introvert kid to being social as well as the cultural secretary.
I got fascinated with engineering when my school seniors – admitted to the Indian Institute of Technology – would share their stories with me. I had a keen interest in physics and wanted to pursue it for my further studies. Therefore, I worked hard to clear JEE Main and Advanced. I am Sriram Kethireddy, a fifth year Engineering Design student at IIT Madras.
This four year BTech course teaches product design in different fields. The last year is about specialisation in product design in one particular field. My specialisation is in biomedical design.
The classes begin at 8 am and usually end by 5-6 pm if there are labs. Once the classes are over, we either chill at the hangout spots, rest in our rooms, study at the library or work for the extra-curricular activities.
Saarang and being the Cultural Affairs Secretary
I am the secretary of cultural affairs. As the cultural affairs secretary, one of our biggest responsibilities is to hold Saarang, our cultural fest as well as the biggest student run cultural fest in South Asia.
No professor or faculty member gets involved in this. Our annual budget is a whopping Rs 2 crore. Around half of our budget comes from the revenue we generate during Saarang. We have events as well as shows during the night. For this year, we organised a classical night where popular artists Indosoul and Maalavika Sundar performed. Then, we also had a choreo night, a dance-off where we invite an expert to judge a competition. The prize money is in lakhs.
We also give our stall space and rent-out rooms for people to stay during the fest. Apart from sponsors, we collect revenues from rent, registration fees, ticket sales and more such activities. We start preparing for Saarang somewhere in April and the fest takes place in January. I thoroughly enjoy every bit of the process – from overseeing planning to the final days when we have sleepless nights to ensure that everything runs smoothly. These events make us responsible and we learn teamwork.
As a child, I was an introvert but after joining the IIT-Madras, I have become more social. And, being the cultural secretary has significantly contributed to it. It has taught me how to resolve problems that seemed impossible earlier, how to enjoy the process of doing things, I have learned not to do things for a personal goal but to earn something for a team and most of all how to be an adult.
Mess and Canteen
The mess is open for breakfast from 7 am to 9 am. We usually have two types of breakfast- North Indian and South Indian, there is bread-jam and Maggi as well. I usually prefer idli, dosa, vada and more.
Other than the mess, we have a food court where there is more variety and you can get the dish by adding money to your card by scanning our ID cards. I generally eat at the food court as I don’t like mess food. My usual order includes biryani. I also like chaat, juices and ice-cream.
Hostel life at IIT Madras
I came here in 2018 and then Covid-19 pandemic struck and half of my fourth semester, all of my third year and half of my fourth year were spent in lockdown. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hostel. Finally, when the second wave subsided, our college reopened.
You have the option to choose either a triple occupancy room or a single occupancy room in the hostel. Initially, I stayed in a triple sharing room. After the lockdown was lifted, I moved to a single occupancy room as I wanted to experience that as well.
The best part of hostel life is you get to live with your friends. The students who were once strangers become the best of friends. It’s fun to cook Maggi at 1 am with a friend in a kettle or borrow small things from toothpaste to washing powder.
During the exams, group studies or taking help from seniors during the wee hours are a common sight.
When my mother packs the chicken pickle, murukku and sunnundalu that can last for at least a month, we all binge and finish it in two days. These are some of the most memorable moments of my hostel life.
One of the most popular corners around here is the Himalayan lawn. It is a huge lawn where students hang out during the night. A few shops are also open all night long. With around 10,000 people residing on the campus, it is like a small township. We have a shopping complex, tailor shops, laptop repair shops, a restaurant and all the facilities that we could think of.
Our college shares a boundary with Guindy National Park and there is no clear demarcation between the boundaries. We have seen deer, blackbucks, and monkeys coming inside the campus. It feels quite serene to be in the realm of nature.
Professors and curriculum
The professors here are also helpful. Most of them are researching a topic and if we want we can request them to include us in their project. They also give us lab access and other things if we assist them. We get credits for being part of a project.
Here at IIT Madras, we have the freedom to choose our curriculum, we have core subjects that are compulsory and other than that we have a vast number of electives that we can choose from. I have an interest in core physics, it is not a part of my curriculum, but it is a part of quantum physics. Humanities and economics interest me too. In humanities, I like literature and in economics, I like international economics and principles of economics.