The Creative Crusader: Anubhav Moharana
On the eve of the Grand Farewell, when nostalgia was at its peak, Team Monday Morning caught up with Anubhav Moharana for a chat to reminisce about his journey so far. This massive Harry Potter fan who has been nicknamed Dobby because of his uncanny resemblance to the timid elf, is terrified of any insect that flies, especially grasshoppers! His friends associate him with the ‘Raita’ or 90s Bollywood songs that he listens to while working and he has a strange ritual of tuning into Katy Perry’s Teenage Dreams before every exam. He started off as a shy introvert desperately trying to “Feel for MM” and ended up as a Chief Coordinator of the organization, leaving behind a legacy along with being an inspiration for all young reporters. Read on to find out about the chronicles of this phenomenon!
MM: Tell us about your childhood days, before you joined NITR.
AM: I was born and brought up in Rourkela. Till my sixth standard we used to live in the outskirts of the city – about 20km away – in the Fertilizer Township. It was a very small place where everyone knew everyone else. Till class six I used to have a lot of friends and almost all of my time was spent in their midst, playing or hanging out. After moving into the main city, I joined Delhi Public School. The shift made it difficult for me to make new friends. Being an introvert, I felt inhibited and I remained at home instead of going out and playing. We have a huge library in my house, and that was the period when I started judiciously using that resource. Till then, I was the only member in my family who did not read books, but that was when I made books my friends. Before I completed my eighth standard I had already graduated from the library at our home to other philosophical books. Also. I started writing during my tenth class, a habit which I have kept with me till now.
MM: How would you rate the growth of this institute in the last four years?
AM: In the last four years, we have primarily grown in terms of infrastructure, with everything else remaining more or less the same. There was a tinge of zone culture during our times, but that has been significantly diluted now. Being ragged was a different experience, but it certainly had a major role in improving the junior-senior relationship. Currently the only interaction that exists is based on the club culture and that is hierarchical in nature. So, there is a divide between juniors and seniors which was non-existent then. The “interaction” between seniors and juniors created a personal connect between them which is something that the current batch is missing. In fact, I even joined Monday Morning because one of my seniors had asked me to, telling me that it was the only club worth joining. In terms of fests, it has been oscillating between good and bad depending on the organizers. Another important thing is that the overall outlook of the institute has undergone massive changes. Our thought processes have broadened and expanded which is reflected in our fests and the core ideas behind them.
At the same time, there has been a general dip in the humility that the junior batches have. I have started feeling a huge dearth of people who are humble and modest and yet are great leaders. The fact saddens me a lot and maybe in the near future I would see better people at the helm.
MM: With 20 days of your undergraduate career left, can you tell us about some memories which have left an indelible mark on you?
AM: My undergraduate career had many memories, both good and bad; the good revolved mainly around Monday Morning – whether it was becoming a Chief Coordinator, or working with Anshuman and Snehashis, or organizing the Open House Discussion. I still remember, we were sitting at Hex and planning for the print issue, when it suddenly dawned upon us that we needed to leave a legacy of our own, something with which our future batches will remember us. That was when the plan of organising the Open House Discussion became concrete. Working for the print issue was also a tremendous experience – we edited the articles and gave them to Sushovan, who is truly a magician because the final product that he gave us surpassed all our expectations. On a personal front, I would say, I loved making new friends and hanging out with them.
When your best friend of ten years is in the same institute, as well as the same branch, most of your memories tend to flock around him. And that also led to one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. Last year, when Ronak Das passed away, it shattered me to the core. Being so attached to someone so irreplaceable in your life and having him snatched away makes you wonder at the whimsical nature of life. That phase of my life was a dark one and it was only with the support of my close friends and family that I could get out of that place. I would say, that is the one experience that has left an indelible mark on me.
MM: You were a part of Episteme in your first year. How was your experience there?
AM: I have always enjoyed quizzing, and as a first year I was quite active in the club. I had hosted two quizzes that year – one was a TV Quiz and the other was a Toon Quiz. I hosted the TV Quiz with Wasim who had prepared the majority of the questions and I had merely assisted him in a few parts. For the Toon Quiz, Ronak and I had worked together. Episteme had an event called Gloriam, which was the biggest school quiz at Rourkela, at that point of time. I remember visiting every school and convincing them to participate. We had conducted a qualifying quiz for Delhi Public School and we had worked hard for every single question in each of the rounds. Quizzing always gives you an exhilarating feeling which I really enjoyed and that is why I still go to quizzes sometimes, when I get the chance. In my second year, after I joined Monday Morning I became a little inactive, and subsequently even the club became defunct.
MM: We’ve heard that you’re a voracious reader. How do you think your reading habits have contributed towards your literary skills and personality development?
AM: Almost everything I am is because of the books I read, especially because I had few friends and less exposure to the outside world, while growing up. I think I’m very creative and imaginative, and all of that comes from the books that I read. The expansive fictional worlds that these authors created always inspired me and gave me an insight on what a powerful tool the human imagination can be – it can lift you up in the darkest of your times.
After devouring fiction, I quickly progressed into more serious and heavy reading like Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Those books are pivotal to the kind of person I am today. These books try to teach you the importance of being independent and individualistic, because of which you gain a lot of respect for yourself. They light a kind of fire inside you, because of which you can learn from every character and motivate yourself from their stories.
After that, I moved on to more philosophical books such as Story of Philosophy by Will Durant and History of Knowledge by Charles Van Doren – all those books which chronicle the journey of humans, right from being a Neanderthal Man to the Modern Man. They emphasize on the power of the human mind, and have instilled in me a kind of awe and faith – that human beings are capable of doing wonderful things and solving the most difficult problems in the most simplistic ways. Books gave my personality a holistic dimension and that has helped me through everything I have ever done.
MM: Your co-chief coordinators knew each other from before and you experienced your share of apprehensions because of it. How did you manage to transcend your differences and build such an efficient team?
AM: Snehasis and I were in the same open elective class in our third semester but we had never spoken to each other. The basis of our friendship began when both of us had a strong indication that we were going to become Chief Coordinators. During the induction process, when our mentors would be taking the personal interviews, Snehashis and I would be talking among ourselves and trying to build our future team, and plan all sorts of endeavours for our tenure. We had a lot of debates and deliberation among ourselves about who the third Chief Coordinator would be.
I had spoken to Anshuman Patnaik only twice before we both became Chief Coordinators. I generally had a very good impression of him, since he was a very calm and composed person, who never got involved much during the meetings. His name gave me a lot of solace, whenever I saw it along with mine and Snehashis Hota’s name in the probation list for our summer tasks! After his accident in the fourth semester, he vanished from my radar and memory, completely. He had his CC interview on the day of the Grand Farewell Dinner, a day before the Annual Commencement Meeting of Monday Morning and I had this premonition that maybe he was going to become the third CC!
After becoming Chief Coordinators, I realized that these two knew each other beforehand and it might just so happen that they would not take me or my opinion seriously. That was when I decided that I was going to ensure that I maintain a good rapport with both of them. I had already become fairly decent friends with Snehashis owing to our bonding before the announcement of the posts, my friendship with Anshuman grew over time. After working together in summer, I think we truly bonded. I clearly remember this one instance when Anshuman Patnaik wanted to have a Recruitment Feedback section, inspired from Insight, the IIT Bombay e-newsletter and Snehashis thought we were taking too many ideas from them and hence opposed the new section. Suddenly, Anshuman said he didn’t care what we did and left. That was when Snehashis and I really started panicking because he had suddenly left the group chat and we didn’t know what we had done to make him so angry. We tried calling him up multiple times with no avail and we even made up plans among ourselves to make it up to him, later. Eventually when he did get back to us and told us that he had only gone to have dinner and his phone had run out of charge, I realized how truly indispensable we had become for each other and that became like a bonding moment for our team, as a whole. After classes we used to spend most of our time together from which the major chunk would be taken up by our frivolity and with debates on irrelevant topics. Soon enough we start sharing personal matters with each other, and when that happens, you tend to open up, your thoughts start to get in sync and our co-ordination improved, and we could understand each other in a much better manner.
MM: Can you highlight a few of the milestones from your career at Monday Morning?
AM: As a reporter, during my third semester I wasn’t really “Feeling for MM”. I used to do articles primarily because I enjoyed writing, but there was something inherent missing in it. That December I decided I had to do something because I started thinking maybe I should try to become a Chief Coordinator. The best thing that happened after that, when I came back to the institute, was that Saswat Patnaik and I got to interview Goverdhan Mehta. That article changed my outlook towards Monday Morning. I researched about him throughout the night and found out that he had about 400 published research papers, that he was a Padma Shri, that he was the Director of IISC, Bangalore and the President of the Indian National Science Academy. I was star-struck by the fact that I was getting the opportunity to interview such an eminent personality. I remember we waited for about 6 hours, we attended his lecture before which we had tried to visit him in the guest house and spoken to the director about three times seeking his help in the matter. Even the day before the event the organizers had denied us on the grounds that he would not have enough time. We had to convince the director personally and finally we were given a window of fifteen to twenty minutes to complete the interview. The thing that struck me the most was that despite his immense achievements and credibility he was so humble. Even though he was so knowledgeable and knew in such great depth about a wide variety of things he explained things in such a simple manner than even a lay man could comprehend it easily!
This experience triggered my zeal to work for MM, exponentially because I started thinking that MM could give me many such experiences to interact with such eminent personalities, in the future and it would help me evolve as a person. After that article I covered convocation and that was a very different experience altogether – entering the arena as a second year and being a part of the whole process was definitely memorable.
The next highlight of my career as a reporter was definitely Minare. That was the first edition of the event and I was the only one covering it. The zeal of the organizers is what struck me the most and I was motivated by their passion for doing something new, for the first time. I stayed out of my room for the three days that the event continued and attended every little event, competition and lecture. When the article was allotted to me, they had probably expected a summary of the events and a brief description of each of them; what I gave them instead was an exhaustive article that covered each and every aspect of the event. I went and spoke to participants, to organizers and to everyone else who had a role to play. I tried to identify from my interviews what problems they faced in terms of infrastructure and arrangements. I believe, that article brought me into the limelight and that was one of my most memorable experiences as a reporter in Monday Morning.
After that the Spic Macay State Convention was there, which was conducted during an extended weekend and most of the campus had been vacated. For that week’s issue I had Chief Warden’s Column and other and one or two articles in the State Convention. However, when the time came I hijacked around six-seven articles in that issue. I used to attend an event, go back to my room and write down the article and come back and attend the next event. I started asking my co-reporters if they needed help with any articles and I started writing theirs as well. I met Rahul Pasayat in Hex, when he appreciated my work and told me I was doing a great job! That was definitely a big thing for me then, as a reporter. I also remember being scolded during the first semester for writing very small department articles.
Furthermore becoming the CC was definitely one of the highlights, though I was sure about becoming one from beforehand. Also, the website was not ready over the summer and we had to get it designed and ready within a week. I remember getting lots of calls from the Mentors over the summer regarding work not done. It was very tough co-ordinating during the summers. In the first issue, we had stayed up the entire night and published 40 articles and even put up a silly Facebook status about it! Even though that was unprecedented, it had a lot of editing mistakes in it. Later, we learnt to stock articles.
While doing the Multi- ethnic article, I had forgotten to add Tamil Nadu to the South zone, and after the article was published there were lots of complaints. A letter was even sent to Prof. J. P. Kar, stating how facts were wrong and I was called to the room of the people concerned and even threatened. Working for the print issue was an experience in itself. Mostly, Monday Morning gave me a platform to speak up, to get my opinions heard and bring a change in the institute. Me, my Co-CCs, Sushovan (Creative Head) and Siddharth Manu (TC) gave ourselves an alter ego based on the Avengers superheroes. Apart from satiating our nerdy genes, it was also a way of inherently accepting that we were there to make a change in the system. And incidentally we made sure that every poster that was brought up had a touch of the Avengers theme in it!
MM: How was the experience of organizing an OHD?
AM: The idea of the OHD came up because there were a lot of problems in the institute especially about the internet and the girls' hostel. We used to sit at Hex together and brainstorm ideas. We worked really hard for it, making posters, taking up issues, and at the end of it the Director refused to come to it. We were really dejected. Ultimately, we managed to convince him to come for it. The true experience was in organizing the event despite the amount of apprehensions playing at the back of our minds. I still remember, I had this huge timeline for the OHD stuck to the wall of my room which showed in details along deadlines of the amount of work we had to do. Since it was a first of its kind event, we deliberated a lot about every minute detail before finalising it. Our mentors helped us a lot in that front. When we were making the script for the event, we made sure that we could properly anticipate every possible answer that the authorities give so that we could come up with the apt response to that. And that was one of the inherent reasons why the event was such a huge success. The sleepless nights before the OHD took such a toll on our minds that I can assure you that none of my Co-CCs has any recollections of what actually happened in the event. It was all a sort of blur and when it ended I remember sitting on the ground of the BBA unable to comprehend what we had just achieved. The feeling was indescribable. I would give a lot of credit for that success to both Rahul Pasayat and Prem Depan Nayak for the passion and enthusiasm that they had put into the event.
MM: What are your expectations and goals for MM in the next few years?
AM: I would like an Android App for MM. Also, I believe that the size of the team should increase because the regular content team members come under a lot of pressure during the time of the Print Issue since they simultaneously work for the web issues. Or else we can have a separate team which will exclusively work or the print issue throughout the year. Other concerns include that the current Director will be going away and how the next Director will perceive MM. Website wise we are well sorted out. Also we can start mentoring first years by doing the induction a bit earlier. That way they can get a chance to work with the second years and get groomed better.
I hope someday we come up with a TGIF section. It will be an informal section, which will include reviews of places to hang out, and what to do in Rourkela. I believe that will expand our readership significantly.
Also, we need to have a uniform succession planning system in place where candidates can be judged in a very objective manner to a certain extent. These small things can ensure the more efficient workings of MM.
MM: You have been passionately preparing for MBA, which has even helped you in securing a job at MuSigma. So what are your future plans?
AM: Preparing for my MBA entrance examination was an altogether different experience. The entire rigmarole changes you a lot. At one point of my preparations, I figured out that I had this fatal flaw of being averse to change. And to work on that fatal flaw and removing it would be the best thing that my preparations brought about in me. It helped to continuously evaluate myself as a person, to understand from my mistakes and then work upon it. Every night was spent on contemplating as to what can be improved, what strategies can be implemented to ensure better results next day. This changes your thought process and makes you understand yourself as a person in a much better way.
The failures that you face after you work so hard and passionately for something can be devastating. And that is where the continuous support from my parents, my brother and Abhipsa Mishra, helped me sail through those incredibly tough times. It is rightly said that adversities test the true strength of your relationships and I have experienced it first hand during my MBA preparations.
Apart from that I started reading about and developing a passion for Finance. I hope I get through a B-school as soon as possible so that I can pursue that passion for finance. Being a part of Monday Morning aligned my interests towards HR too. So, by God’s grace I hope, I get to study more about my interests in the near future.
MM: Are you a religious or God fearing person?
AM: It does not hurt to have faith in God/a greater being or power. It gives your mind mental peace and stability along with the assurance that every small thing in your life is propelling you towards your destiny. That, by default eliminates the scenario of being God “fearing”. I have always believed that dots connect. That, when you look back at your life you can connect the dots on how every single experience has shaped you and brought you to where you are. It allows you to get a very sound idea as to where you are heading in your life. The faith that good things will definitely happen in your life can perhaps make me sound religious but I would consider myself to be a man of faith rather than being religious.
MM: You are a huge fan of Harry potter and Star Wars. What makes these series so relatable to you?
AM: Star Wars is basically the first movie that I saw. My father had brought the VCR and I was awed by what I saw. I give a lot of importance to the power of imagination and the justness of this universe these thoughts were shaped by Star Wars. The clear demarcation between good and evil fuels my faith that good things will happen to good people. That is why Star Wars, Harry Potter and even Lord of the Rings appeals to me. Star Wars is very emotional for me to the extent that the opening soundtrack can make me lachrymose.
MM: We know that you are a closet poet with some marvellous pieces up your sleeve. How did poetry happen to you? Why don't you write on a public platform?
AM: Poems come to me at very emotionally charged moments. The first poem came to me when a very close aunt of mine died in front of my eyes. Then the frustrations of my eleventh and twelfth preparations charged me a lot, and motivated me to write. My poems are very dark and personal, and I do not write happy poems, so I prefer to keep them to myself, rather than publishing them.
MM: What message do you have for your readers?
You should have an aim as to what you want to do in your four years. There is a lot of opportunity to explore yourself at NIT, Rourkela so I would suggest that you find your passion at a very early stage, and work very hard towards achieving that passion. After these four years you won't get the same kind of time, and you might have regrets about not doing what you fell in love with. It’s all about dreaming, working hard, and loving what you do. May the force be with you!