I've had a close relationship with IIT Delhi. Don't be absurd! Of course I wasn't studying there. I was an Arts student from Gargi College. Happy in my arty bubble of Camus, Foucault and Derrida; when one fine day my class-mate buddy dragged me along to meet an "orkut" friend of hers.
Right opposite IIT Delhi is a market which used to have a hookah bar called Village cafe. One of the hottest hang-outs of our college days. We had just started smoking and hookah was the super-god of bad-assness. What was even more exciting was that we had also just ventured into the world of the virtual and here we were already meeting the first guy!
We sat there looking aloof but sneaking glances at the entrance every now and then. I had not seen or spoken to this guy in question. All I knew was that he wass an IITian. My friend told me nothing more about him. Neither did I ask her anything else. Looking back I realise, that was all there was to him at that moment. He was an IITian. That name, that brand encompassed his entire being. We created our own perceptions about him from that one adjective.
If you ask a non-IITian what he/she thinks about IITians, they will use certain words, vis-a-vis, studious, sincere, nerdy, money-minded, snobby etc. In fact, it would have been very different if we would have been sitting in that hookah bar waiting for some random guy to turn up. We would have spoken and thought about him much differently. But waiting for, say A, was almost like waiting to meet someone from a separate specie all together.
I have always prided myself to be a back-bencher. Anyone who had scored a 95% in twelfth standard was an immediate turn off for me. So when I rolled my eyes at my friend, to express annoyance because this guy was late, I was feeling quite nervous. I expected this person to turn up and laugh at my face and say "Haah! I am everything your parents wanted you to be!"
Let's just say, by appearance, he undid in my head all the dilemmas I had built up for myself. He was short, very awkward, had a huge turtle backpack hanging from his shoulders and was more scared of us that we were of him. That was 2007. Six years later, I know him better than any other guy.
What he had brought along with himself that long gone evening into that dingy hookah bar was a difference of outlook which had me hooked instantly. When we started talking, I thought there would be many awkward pauses! But I remember I got a sounding from my mom that night for reaching home late. There was so much to talk about. We were both geeky in our own different ways. He wanted to know about my world and I had a lot to share. His world was quite fascinating and different and he loved to clear all my doubts too.
It would be unfair to brand him as one particular kind of guy. He's often street smart, quite out-spoken and at the same time quite shy and conservative too. He's a typical UP wallah, very desi, extremely narrow-minded at times and extremely worldly-wise at others. He can be a racist and have extremely logical explanations for being one. He loves to watch the shoddiest of Akshay Kumar and Govinda films and at the same time understands Wong Kar Wai and Stanley Kubrick! He vehemently backs all of Naipaul's controversial statements and is smart enough to see through Salman Rushdie's facade of fancy words. He loves his beer and loves to check out women too. His biggest complain is I'm too much like a man but he doesn't really like the girly girls either. And after having spent so much time with him I really don't know how to distinguish the IITian from him anymore.