13 Jan 2018

#330 A journey to remember

A journey to remember

Dear Jeje (Grandpa),

A greeting from the apple of your eyes (younger grand-daughter). I hope that you might be doing fine. I am about to share the details of my journey to Chennai which would be a piece of a treat for your eyes to glance through.  You always wanted me to travel different parts of country independently, so presenting before you the tale of my journey that I proudly traversed.

The idea of traveling to Chennai stroke my brain few months before was supported by the theme of attending an academic conference. Let me tell you what exactly an academic conference is. An academic conference/Symposium is a meeting of researchers from different areas such as academia, laboratories and industries to share their works on a particular domain and acquaint themselves with the latest innovations in the field. Such conferences not only enhance knowledge but also encourage one for collaboration and extension of network professionally. To present any research work in a conference, one has to submit the required abstract within the deadline. If the abstract gets accepted by the committee of the conference, then there is a call for full paper submission and one gets a chance to visit there to present his/her work in form of a poster or oral presentation.

Sabarmati Hostel and a deer in the vicinity
I got a golden opportunity to visit IIT Madras for presenting my poster in the conference of COMPFLU which was organised in December. I was very much excited to reach there. This was the primary motivation which led me to pass through the hectic journey of 38 hours by train all alone. I landed on Chennai Central at 2 AM and reached my destination at 3 AM. I reported to one of the hostels on the campus of IIT Madras. I had never traveled for such a long hour before, it made me occupied in my room until noon of the next day. The schedule of mine included visiting the campus and Marine Beach which is just situated few kilometers away.

IITM Campus
The campus of IIT Madras covers around 620 hectares of area and out of which the green forest sprawls over an area of 250 acres. It is also home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Even one could find a lot of monkeys roaming and playing inside the hostel. Being unacquainted with the aforementioned fact, I was chased by a troop of monkeys because of carrying a polythene bag which residents of campus didn’t use. I tried to capture photos of a herd of deer which were grazing near the hostel. Sabarmati hostel was the newly constructed one having seven floors and it was situated in the vicinity of two other girl’s hostels named Sarayu and Sharabati. All of these had a common mess. Institute was somewhere located about 2.5km from the main gate. I had my lunch in IRCTC canteen which was closer to the swimming pool. Lunch was too delicious as compared to the monotonous meal provided in the train. As the institute also organized inter IIT sports meet at the same time, so a lot of participants from different IITs all over the country were roaming in the campus. Interestingly, the name of the hostels in IITM is assigned on the basis of rivers of India.  I headed towards Student Activity Centre, as I heard a lot of voice cheering out loudly. It was a volleyball match: IITM vs IIT Ropar and IITM was in lead by 20 points. I was fascinated to observe some students engaged in spray-painting. I went back to my room to prepare for the upcoming event.

Skating ground
The next day was the D-day. The venue was IC-SR building which was in front of the administrative block. The main attraction was the elephant statue at Gajendra Circle. I had to take a few steps from the Gajendra Circle to reach there.  The conference was organised by the management team. This conference was divided into 18 sessions to be covered within the duration of three days. I presented my poster in the afternoon session followed by talks of distinguished speakers. It was indeed a nice experience to share my work with other researchers across the country and get some valuable feedback which I would incorporate into my work for a better outcome.

Each day of the conference would start with the talk followed by a session of a poster presentation and followed by talks again. It would end up with a poster session in evening. After three consecutive talks, there would be tea break, where the delegates and participants would assemble for refreshments and discussion at the hall. Playground of Kendriya Vidyalaya was just adjacent to the venue where the conference was held. While watching students playing relieved some of the memories associated with my school. Being a student of KV, I could very well recollect those game periods and inter-house matches organised in school during last periods on Fridays. Somewhat I felt that I was back to the nostalgic days. I thanked God for giving me a chance to enjoy my life as a student pursuing research. I strongly believe that this phase (student) is the best part of life as there is always a scope of learning and implementing knowledge for the advancement of society. In the evening, certificates were distributed to all the participants.

Last day of the dinner was arranged in Westin restaurant which was at a walkable distance from Velachery Gate. I was awe-struck at the interior design. We all enjoyed the dinner and we had a photo session there. We bid goodbye to each other with a hope to meet again. We left for our respective hostels. I packed my luggage keeping in mind that essentials were not left hurriedly.

IITM Campus
I reached at the Chennai Central at around 10:30 PM. As I could not find the name of my train displayed on the screen, I waited there and there was an announcement made for the delay of the train. So, I had no option other than passing my time by reading a novel. Finally, I boarded the train at 12 AM. This time, I got a company of an old man and his grandchild sharing the same coach as that of mine and we had a good conversation over a variety of things. He introduced himself as a retired faculty of Economics and he had come to pick up his grandchild who was a student there.  He reminded you. I just imagined you in place of him. My journey would have been marvelous. The relationship of grandparents with his grandchildren is really unique and they shower their unconditional love all the time by protecting from the wrath of parents.

Although the conference only lasted for three days yet it proved to be a life-changing experience for me. I not only met with intellectuals and experts in the field but also got an opportunity to explain my work to them. This journey has also transformed me in a sense that I feel much more independent and confident now for having been traveled to an unknown city and managing things in a proper way. Through this journey, I discovered some of my abilities to tackle different situations deftly. Somehow it also helped in boosting up my spirit to pursue what I am interested in.  One of the fascinating things about Chennai is that there is no barrier to communication arising from a language. A common man can understand and speak English. It's not necessary that you should know Tamil or you should have a local friend to guide you. 

Grandpa, It was my habit to share all the interesting incidences with you. Though you don’t reside in this materialistic world yet you are there to read my letters and appreciate my effort. I need your blessings and support for every venture of my life. 

Your loving grandchild,

P.S: You can grab a copy of the book " A hundred little flames" by Preeti Sheenoy
A hundred little flames


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Sweta Sarangi

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