The Marvel-ous Hulk: Snehasis Hota
In the ultimate final year interview of the current academic session, Snehasis Hota, Mentor of Monday Morning, Secretary of the Placement Committee and currently in his 5th year of Electronics and Communication Engineering (Dual Degree), narrates about how he entered the institute as a boy and is confident of walking out as a man.
The One with the Schooling
“I have been born and brought up in Bhubaneswar," begins the Master Xavier's, with an endearing smile. Studying in a non-extravagant school like St. Xavier's High School, he says, presented very limited opportunities. He could keep note of only a handful of seniors who graduated and ended up at good places. A decent student in the classroom, he was one of the members of a small closed group of "sportspersons" who used to play football, volleyball, tennis and handball. For him, the major one was table tennis for which he represented his school in several state-level competitions. He, however, recalls being "naive" and "completely focussed on academics" and giving in to his mother when she asked him to drop playing TT, come Grade 9.
From 9th, I started getting better at academics and in 10th, I was dead serious about them.
Class 10 is when he got to know about the IITs from a senior who was studying in one, and for a long time after that, IITs were the only institutes he was aware of. He was awarded the title of Master Xavier's for his all-round performance in school, during their farewell function, which included a formal ramp walk and a personality round. With a laugh, he says that he's not in touch with the Miss Xavier's anymore.
Following the footsteps of his seniors, he joined BJB Junior College in Class 11 in the Science Stream. His parents would often ask him to prepare for the Medicals because it was what was written on his "kundli", but Snehasis was firm in his decision of not going into Medicine at all.
The best part about BJB was that the timings were very flexible and it wasn't important to attend classes regularly, so a student could do his personal studying. Till 11th, I would score around 60-70% but it all got managed during the board exams.
He says that theirs was the "experimental batch," which would always face the brunt of the sudden transformations in the system. Few instances include the Board exams being taken off after his class 10, theirs being the last batch that gave AIEEE and the batch with whom Online Entrance exams were begun for the first time. He shares an amusing incident from those times.
There was a scholarship exam by the Odisha Government for which 100 students were selected to attend a science coaching camp and 70 of them were from his college. The students who were attending the camp had a provision of getting their registration (for Boards) done late. Due to this, all the students who went for the camp ended up being in the same class for appearing their Boards. He says, with a wink,
It was like giving a class test, and it helped a lot in faring well in the exams. Yes, the invigilators were strict but if you know your way through things, it's easy.
The One with his Branch
Initially hoping to study Mechanical Engineering (because it was the only branch he knew about and was interested in), there was a long series of events, which took place to get him into Electronics. His rank wouldn't let him get into his desired branch and thus, he got Metallurgy in the first round of counselling, followed by CS Dual. However, since the IT market was not up to the mark at that point of time and he himself thought he wouldn't be good at coding, he opted for Electronics based on the recommendations of his teachers at college, his coaching centre and his relatives.
During my second year, I used to regret being in this branch, but now I feel like it was a great decision choosing EC. I feel that it is pretty easy to score in the EC Department than in the CS Department.
The One with the Freshman year
Snehasis laughs a hearty laugh as he begins talking about his first year at NIT-R. He recalls being amazed by the infrastructure here, after having come from a humble school. He would click loads of pictures and send them to his friends and relatives on a daily basis; that is how fascinated he was by the campus. His presumptions of being served with mess food where the dal looked like yellow water and the curry was a dollop of masala (like in jail), were completely reversed on seeing the kind of food that they received here in the GDB Hall of Residence, which is where he stayed. Being served by non-vegetarian food, six days out of seven, in a week was nothing less than a miracle after all.
I remember sending pictures of the food and the decoration during our Garden Fest, to my friends from different colleges and I know that they were jealous.
The club culture at NIT-R also fascinated him no end and he still believes that you can find a club here, for any random thing that you might be good at. His first year went just by exploring different aspects. He would play cards, watch movies, play table tennis (again), explore different restaurants at Rourkela, and visit the zoo and the like. His first interaction with a senior happened via his roommate, and that was when he was introduced to the ragging culture.
Over the years the level of interaction among seniors and juniors have reduced and there has been a significant cultural change as compared to the old days. Ragging, as unethical it may sound, is a great contributor towards building strong bonds among seniors and juniors. With the rules being strict against it, the inter-batch and intra-batch bonding among students is really weak as compared to earlier days. We see Alumni of 90s and 80s visiting our institute to share stories of their friends and seniors which clearly shows the closeness of their friendship. Right now, apart from clubs, sports and SAC activities, there is hardly any sort of informal communication between a senior and a junior in the hostel premises. I personally believe that a mild form of ragging is necessary to maintain the students’ culture in the institute.
About his roommate, he shares a yet another interesting story. He and two other friends from his school had come together for the registration process. Snehasis, however, was careful enough to have forgotten his Demand Draft in his hotel room. By the time he went back, got his cheque and finished the formalities, the hostel which he preferred (with his friends Sushovan Das and Siddhant Mohanty) could not be allotted to him. After "scheming his way through", he got allotted with the same hostel. What he initially thought to be one of the luckiest things to happen to him viz. getting a room in the middle of the first floor, was soon overcast by the thought of having a roommate who he knew (since his school days), to be a geek and a "walking encyclopaedia."
In his first year, he would go to the classes with him, exactly dressed up like him and with a bag around his shoulders, which made a lot of his other friends think that he was also a geek and a nerd like his roommate. It took a few weeks for them just to get friendly with each other, during which Snehasis would prepare to give his Mains again since he wasn't satisfied with NIT-R.
After a month however, I couldn't keep track of where my books vanished, because I stopped studying for it completely.
He gave his first ever exam at NIT-R in the sick room at the guest house, and his CGPA fell down to 7 from that very time and he feels that it had a great impact on his academics. He remembers working as one of the Volunteers for the Nitrutsav back then after which he realised that he had wasted one whole semester at NIT-R and had no idea what clubs to join and where his interests were.
The One with Monday Morning
Anshuman Pattnaik who was in the same department as him, and was an avid reader of Monday Morning and wanted to join MM from the beginning, was the one who introduced him to it and asked him to come along with him for the Inductions.
I joined MM as a chance factor since I didn't know what club to join. I had gone for the D361 inductions before that and had been brutally rejected in the writing part itself.
He recalls writing answers, which were completely honest, even though they involved "bad English." For his task round, he was asked to interview Raunak Thomas, who was a CC back then. Laughing, he says that he had forgotten to carry a recorder with him and took only a notebook. His interview round consisted of a panel, which was very dynamic.
They asked me to name the author of the last interview that had been published on the website. Without putting much thought to it, I said that it was "...some Badapanda... and his interview was decent, not very great," only to realize later that he was sitting right in front of me as a panellist.
During the Commencement program, he was "one of the hugest structures" present there and was called on the dais twice; the second time of which, he again "schemed" his way out of it, honourably gaining the name of a "schemer."
The One where he was a Reporter
What happened next was a life changing experience, believes the Hulk. At the beginning, he would always be on the probation list for not completing his summer tasks in time (one of them being writing a 200-word article for a fest review for which he received a lot of flak from his CCs.) As a reporter, he was allotted the Infrastructure and Department articles, under Malay Milan Choudhury as his Co-ordinator. Back in those days MM consisted of 3 Chief Co-ordinators and 4 Co-ordinators. He stuck to his allotments at the onset, only to end up taking rounds of the campus seeking a possible problem and an article in the process. Innovision 2013 was when the real fun began, he says.
Monali, Anshuman, Purohit and I had the MM ID cards which was a free pass to every event. We used to talk to guests and take their interviews and interact with them. Anshuman and I also did the interview of Prachi Mishra, the Femina Miss India back then, whose video on MM page got 10k views. We had a big fight on who would interview Underground Authority, the band. I ‘schemed’ my way through.
When he did his first CWC, he was praised by his CCS for the background research he had done for the article. Then onwards, he was allotted almost half the CWCs that year along with Monali. He is believed to have been very close to R.K Patel, the then Chief Warden.
The concept of Print Issue was developed in the tenure when he was in his second year. Neither the CCs nor the reporters had a clear idea as to what the ideal format or structure should be. Snehasis along with Anshuman and Debarghya was allotted the mess article 'Bon Appétit’ in the first print issue, whose rough draft was submitted to the CCs who then took the charge of bringing the first issue out. He exclaims with joy that he was awestruck as the articles came out on the A3 sheets with illustrations. The transformation from the rough draft to something like this wasn’t expected at all. There was a problem with the tender, as it had to be an eight-page issue, each with a fold and the details were wrongly mentioned as a four-page issue. Having got the process done, the team was left with 5000 unsorted pages for the print issue. With some music playing in the background and the occasional karaoke, the team had to sit through a day to get the issue arranged in front of the Faculty Advisor’s room.
That was an experience of a lifetime and we started gelling with the CCs really well.
When the even semester in his second year came by, the CCs told the team that they were going to be judged on the basis of their work. Having seen Anubhav Moharana in his OE and his content team, he (Snehasis) became pretty sure that Anubhav was going to be one of the CCs after the MINARE article got published. He himself had never worked to attain a post and was working for the experience. On getting hints that Anubhav and he were the probable candidates for CCs, they started putting ‘schemes’ by interacting with the CCs. Anshuman had an accident and was diagnosed for a month. The hulk had already started thinking of his other teammates along with Anubhav. They started getting 5-6 articles, all belonging to different sectors to check their endurance and management skills. One of his research articles on Sports included conundrums like no proper coaching, sports infrastructure, participation in Inter NIT competition and the reason for not having a sports fiesta. Having spoken to all the sports captain, the SAC authorities, the SAS officers what emerged was a 7000 word long draft. After editing, the CCs brought the word count down to 3500 words and the article was finally published after two weeks. However, the article didn’t serve its purpose as the authorities didn’t take any action, believes the maestro. There was another article which he remembers about ‘Amar Prem’ wherein they wrote about the final years setting up the same profile picture and cover picture on Facebook.
The One with the Call of a CC
During the commencement program, Anubhav Moharana was the first name to be called as a CC. The next name came out as surprise to everyone as Anshuman had given the PI just before the day of the commencement program. Before every name, however, there would be the familiar cheer of ‘Hota! Hota!" and when instead of saying the last name, they motioned towards me saying ‘Ab aajabhai!’ I was so relieved. That moment remains one of the most cherished moments in my life at NIT-R.
The first big task was changing the website. The new CCs would ask Siddharth Manu, the technical co-ordinator of the team who was interning at TCS, about the status, to which he would always reply that it was 'almost 70 % done’. (The website being maintained by Joomla had to be rejigged every year.) So, when Siddharth returned from his internship at TCS, all the post holders sat down to discuss the website and that’s when they came to know that they had to build the website from scratch as the progress had only been till one HTML page with four-five colours! In a week, they made a lot of furtherances and when the post holders came back to the institute the website was there for everyone to see.
A lot of new sections were included on the website, some of which were:
- 'Recruitment Feedback' through a document sent to all students who got placed in companies so that the interested juniors could reach out to them.
- The 'Internship Database' was also conceptualised that year where one could fill details like the procedure, stipend, and experience through the site itself.
- 'SAC Speaks' section wherein the Dean SW and SAC president got interviewed on a regular basis. The focus then shifted to research articles with the inputs from both the students and teacher as the latter wasn’t being very useful.
- Taking ideas from talks.com they integrated audio clips in articles so that the reader had a first-hand experience of the voice. However, this was being very hectic to manage.
- The system of 'Block Quotations' was added.
- Another credible thing Snehasis did was to add the contact of the Emergency Health Centre on the MM website as he believed that Monday Morning being accessible through Intranet can be put to better use this way.
- Turning the ‘News of the week’ into a scroll feature helped reduce the shabbiness of the website.
Anubhav and Snehasis had thought that they would have 4 print issues alongside the web issues, but that idea didn’t materialise as they understood that it couldn’t be done until and unless the reporters had an experience of 3 months. The work for the print issue started in December and the CCs had sent a draft to Sushovan Das, the design coordinator without any instructions.
What he gave us back was something magnificent and we had to do only some minor changes. Within 10 days the content and designing were done, the new features included the monochrome theme and the matte finish.
The next big thing was the Open House Discussion in the institute which focussed on mess issues, late entry restrictions, internet restrictions, SAC reimbursements, and security issue, was actually inspired by an Odia show named ‘Janamancha’ in the summer. Recalling one of the incidents which inspired them to conduct the OHD he speaks:
During the December of 2014, there was a big fuss regarding the mess food being served at VS Hall. In a particular Sunday meal, students found insects in dal, undercooked chicken and the store-room in a dilapidated state for which a group of students complained to the Warden and the Chief Warden. MM was informed about this issue and I went on to take photos of the store room and got the rest of the photos from one of the students in the agitation. MM team took interviews of the Warden, Food Inspector, Mess Manager, Chief Warden and the Hostel Secretaries. The article which was published had a statement given by the Warden which accused the Mess Secretary of being corrupt. A group of students including the Mess Secretary visited by room because I was in the institute and my co-CCs were at their homes. We had an argument and the next day I was called upon to provide evidence for the statements mentioned in the article. I provided the same in a meeting with the Warden and Mess Secretary. Also, the article had a lot of pictures in it which created a big fuss among the readers. We got a call from J P Kar sir and we had to remove the pictures because the article wasn’t IP restricted and our alumni started taking note of the situation and calling the Director to inquire about the same. Out of all the action, something good came out. The Mess Manager was fined Rs.5000 (in paper) and the food quality improved for that month.
For the internet issue, the team approached Mr.Turuk to lift the restriction of a maximum download of 300 MB until the Director of the institute came back as he was out of Rourkela, to which he agreed. There were a lot of CJ articles, Discussion articles, and WITSDOMs pouring in, but the junta of NITR wanted to have a say in the questioning and cross-questioning the authorities. To get the authorities to come for the OHD, the team approached the Director regarding the logistics. The Director advised them to have the discussion with authorities from every department and made a few edits in the draft of the issues, which were to be addressed in the OHD.
We distributed pamphlets and set up flex in key areas so that everyone could be aware of such a thing is happening and that they could pitch in their voice. We also sent a group mail through the director to make sure all the authorities come for the OHD. The experience was really great and three of us (CCs) thought this was the highest point one can achieve and there’s nothing beyond this.
During his tenure as a CC the team used to struggle as they had just one photographer. As Snehasis recalls
We were lucky to have got Kuthum through a reference and he joined us in the middle of the year and things changed after that. Great new ideas were introduced and the rest is history.
The One with the Vision
The only thing the hulk regrets is not being able to control his temper. He also believes that he could have showcased better leadership skills. He credits his junior CCs who were charged up after the OHD and for integrating the Videography section during their tenure. As his term as a Mentor draws to an end, Snehasis wants MM to be more professional and put up more accurate data with the website to be on par with media bodies like Insight. Also, he feels there can be a change in the structure wherein members can work throughout their three years after joining MM and help publish well-versed research articles.
I’ve always drawn inspiration from the seniors of MM.In our second year, there was a talk by Samik Ghoshal which was greatly inspiring and had a big hand in instilling the “feel for MM” among our batchmates. Besides that, there have been very dynamic people like Antareep Sharma, Mahesh Goenka, etc. who were running the organisation. I also looked upto Rahul and Prem Bhai and have been very close to them. They have been a source of inspiration. I see one of them as a brother and the other as a father figure. At the time, we became CCs, we had this big moral pressure to live up to the expectations of the organisation and be at least half as close to the leaders MM had witnessed before us. That served as an unstoppable force driving us throughout the year as CCs.
For the institute, he recollects on how the institute’s infrastructure has developed a lot since his first year.
I remember the barren lands in place of LA lawns, TIIR building under construction about which I wrote articles for MM, Twin Towers partially constructed and no air conditioning in any of the auditoriums. Right now, it feels great to have seen these structures take their destined shape and working. However, the one thing that still hasn’t changed since my freshman year is the accountability of officials. Even today, the smallest of issues or permissions need to be passed by the Director to get approval. It delays the process and isn’t making anyone’s life easy in the institute. I hope to see some changes in the near future
The One with the Internship
The first internship that this prudent academician did was at IIT Bhubaneswar. However, there was nothing fruitful which came out as the guide wasn’t helpful and the final thesis submitted by him was mostly pirated content. He also forgot to remove a hyperlink because of which the professor faced many problems.
In his third year, due to good relations with Prof. S.K Behera (with whom he built a very good rapport while covering department articles) who had very strong contacts with faculties in IIT Kharagpur, he bagged another internship. His project focussed on Antenna and as he had read about it in the third year, he found it interesting. Due to the extreme weather conditions, Snehasis along with colleagues used to be awake throughout the night and go to the library in the morning, the next day to enjoy the perks of the air-conditioner. He also made trips to Mandarmani beach during his stay at the institute and brought in some ideas from IIT KGP which could be implemented in NIT Rourkela after his two and half months stay there.
The One with the Placement
While sharing his placement story, Snehasis narrates that until his fourth year he was not aware of which field would he pursue after passing out. Being a student of the dual degree, one advantage to him was that he could observe all his BTech friends getting placed and hence analyse about all those companies and decide which would be his realm. As a PC Intern, he got to know about the field of consulting and found it to be the one where his interests and qualities gained in his campus life lied. PwC, being the only leading company that recruited for consultancy profile became a dream job for him and throughout the summer he did research on how the ‘Big four accounting firms’ worked and prepared himself for this.
Facing two rejections from Tredence Analytics and Axis Bank prior to this, out of which he found the interview round of Axis Bank to be intimidating, he described these as the stepping stones for the preparation for PwC. Considering this as his final shot, and he prepared very well and got shortlisted. Describing his interview, he gives credits to Monday Morning as 90% of the duration of his interview went on describing about his work in Monday Morning and his leadership skills. As quoted by him
When I was initially telling about Monday Morning, one of the HRs cross-questioned me by saying that the job of a CC is just to guide the four teams and give only instructions to them and hence it seems very simple. That struck my ego and I kept on saying about Monday Morning for the next 20 minutes.
With this, he got selected for the second round where he again shared his experience in Monday Morning, about how he came to know about PwC via Venkat Peri’s interview. Finally, he got selected along with two other candidates and that day was ‘one of the best days in NITR’ as described by him.
The One with a Rough Patch
Every path to success has a series of failures on its way. Similarly, for Snehasis the rough phase in his life was not qualifying for GATE. It was very traumatic for him and lack of preparation during December and January was one of the factors for this, which he considers as one of the things to be regrettable in NITR. But as it is said that the show must go on, he moved on by taking numerous treats from his friends who qualified the exam (laughs).
The One with Table Tennis
Having played table tennis from his first year, the hulk tells MM that for one reason or the other they weren’t able to represent the institute despite having several opportunities to do so. Having backed out in his first year willingly seeing his friend Om Prakash back out, what happened in the second year was a case of pure carelessness. Dr. P.K. Rout claimed that the captain of the team hadn’t completed the paperwork because of which the team couldn’t participate despite being in a very good shape. When all looked set in the next year, swine flu struck the hosting NIT Bhopal and the team had to see it’s efforts put through the time go to waste. In his fourth year there was no direct train to NIT Silchar and having proposed a full travel plan to SAC along with the budget, the director rejected it stating that there were no funds in the institute to afford air travel.
This year, the competition being held in NIT Srinagar the director was sceptical regarding the law and order situation and demanded a police force for the team, which was obviously not provided. However, all was not lost as the team participated in IIT Roorkee sports fest. The Girls team secured the third position but the boys were thrashed brutally by the Alumni team of IIT Roorkee.
TT has never been considered a primary sport in the institute both by the students and the authorities. We struggle a lot to get a proper playing space, equipment and coaching. Against all odds, our team came back with good results in IIT BHU sports fest. The boys team went to semifinals and the girls team were runners up with Swetaleena winning player of the tournament award. I wasn’t a part of that team but I am really happy for the team’s performance.
The One with his Pets
For a person whose motto is “Cleanliness is next to godliness”, it is hard to believe that he is an ardent pet lover (although he's scared of dogs.) Currently, his room is home to two Guinea Pigs- Pondy and Golum. Narrating the story about it, he says that he came to know about the availability of Guinea Pigs in Rourkela market from two of his friends Madhav and Naveen. The moment when he saw them, he made up his mind to buy one. He went to a shop in Sector-2, where it was available, regularly until a fresh stock came and he along with his friend Rohit purchased two of them.
Coming to the nomenclature of his pets, he named one of his pets as Pondy, after his second roommate Proneet Nibedit, with whom he shared a very good brotherhood and as described by him, he was a guy who never got disturbed when Snehasis used to do the work of Monday Morning along with his friends. After Proneet passed out of the institute, he missed him so much that he named one of his pets after Proneet’s nickname, ‘Pondy’. His friend Rohit Mohanty named his second pet as ‘Golum’, as it was very fat and fluffy.
The One with the Hobbies
For a person with a very busy schedule, hobbies help him in relaxing and finding some time for himself. For Snehasis, playing table tennis, drumming (which he learned during his first year and which he wants to pursue again in Kolkata where he is placed), watching Football (a diehard Real Madrid fan) are some.
This multi-versatile personality had also performed with Heartbeats, playing the drums alongside them, during the inauguration of the Music Room at the VS Hall.
I'm a big fan of the Heartbeats team which consisted of Prem Bhai, Ankesh Bhai, Vishal, Sanjeeban, Ashish and co, and I would always be grateful to them for having given me that one opportunity.
Apart from that, he idolises the character of James Bond, who according to him is very sassy, rough and tough. Dark Knight is another favourite movie of his and despite being scared of horror movies; he watched a lot of them till his fourth year and entertained his friends during the screening of the movie.
The One with the Message
There is a lot to be learned from this dedicated moral fibre. Braving all the disappointments that life had to offer and with work ethics that would put the most hard-working to shame, Snehasis is as humbling as ever.
When one comes from school to college, a big transition occurs and the changes might seem intimidating at first. But one must not get scared of it, because if you cannot decide what to do in life, you can at least decide what not to do in the future. Do as many things as you want; you might succeed in some and you might fail in some but you will learn a lot. Remember that any good experience or achievement is always preceded by shitty ones. Make sure you get through enough tough situations and take a lot of shit to expect something great later.