Thursday, January 28, 2010

Speaking from the Stage

Just 3 days after I had fumbled through my Humanities presentation, I was provided another opportunity to speak. But this time, everything was different. It wasn’t an ordinary classroom, but the stage of Dogra Hall. The audience wasn’t a bunch of students sitting for attendance, but rather the Deans, Director of IIT and Faculty Members. And most importantly, I spoke not because everyone would get a turn to speak, but was one of the 3 members short-listed by the Dean of Students to deliver a speech. The other two were fourth yearites, one of them being BSP (Board of Students Publication) General Secretary himself- Sudhanva Rao, while the other was Nishant Ranka. The occasion was celebration of 51st year of establishment of IIT-Delhi, on the ‘Foundation Day’ and the task of the speech was to express views on the topic ‘Widening Horizons of IIT-Delhi’.
Though the name had initially confused me as well, (as I had submitted a piece stating changes that must be incorporated in the system in this decade), a call clarified my misconceptions. The call was from the Dean of Students, Shashi Mathur himself who clarified the topic meant whether IIT-Delhi should expand into the diverse fields of medicine, arts, law, commerce etc. as well. The countdown till the decisive verdict on being the one to deliver a speech was both anxious and hopeful. When Shashi sir called again, I jumped delightfully for being selected and called the place I still love the most-home, despite a plethora of friends here. Dropping the Combinatorics book, I practiced while a replica of me (through the mirror) watched as the audience.
Later, the night provided contrasting emotions- of wait, desperation, fear, victory, delight, knowledge and appreciation. The event began approximately at 6, with an audience of at least 300 as I waited for my turn in one of the back seats. Seated besides the BSP G Sec and Editor, the wait became pricklier. The initial address by Director, IITD followed by a speech from one of the greatest figures in IIT history (ex-director of IIT-B, TIFR and Head of Scientific Advisory Council to the President of India) who dwelt into the feel of it, refusing to leave stage before at least 40 minutes, ensured numbers had began declining in the crowds. I don’t know whether I would have listened to him, had my speech not been a part of the evening later, but here I didn’t.
Apparently, the single thing that encouraged the remaining to cling to their seats was the free dinner (high-tea) after evening. Kashish Mittal ostensibly offered temporary relief taking the stage with classical music, rather than preaching (though I was supposed to do the same) but it got agonizing when his rendition lasted above half an hour. Enthusiasm had begun wearing off me, but the news of the scrapping of one of the speeches (time constraints) sent waves of fear through my spine. To relieve it, BSP G Sec himself resigned off the task, while I was asked to trim my speech into half.
The worst part was the following of performance by yet another never-ending ‘address’ by an ex-director of some IIT as crowd vanished exponentially. I was glad to know, Professor RK Sharma (HOD, Maths Department) waited for my speech but left when the ex-director crossed tolerable limits. I was flattered, as well as dejected to receive an apology by HOD himself as he left.
A dance performance added to the wait, but they suffered the most as they had to depart within 2 minutes. And then finally Nishant Ranka spoke (I didn’t hear his words either) for approximately 5 minutes, setting the stage for me. It was heartening to see crowd still seated with above 50 people, and I begun. The speech went well, as per my expectations where my unusual baritone was amplified by the mike, often stung my own ears. It was a delightful moment to have completed the speech, standing to the applause of the crowd.
Being approached to contribute the speech towards IIT-D alumni newsletter, immediately after added to the sensation. The food was somewhat worth the wait, as unlimited snacks served a good dinner, and equally knowledgeable and heartening were the chats with Tejesh (a 4th yearite from Combinatorics class), Nishant Ranka, Shashi Mathur, SCS Rao and a just admitted Assistant Professor into IITD Mechanical Department (Nomesh). At the end of the night, the bad feelings didn’t matter as a sense of achievement was the primary feeling, and an immense pleasure.


Novacaine said...

Nicely written dude, I like your writings :).

PS: I guess, the strenght was more than 50 :) [somewhere near 80-100]. Last time it was much better - there were over 300!

Siddharth Bhattacharya said...

@ Novacaine a.k.a. Nishant:
Thanks, I loved this opportunity and would be waiting for more...Would have loved to listen to your speech, but adrenalin ensured I didnt.

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