Shaastra Part 2: IITian eXperiences

“Shaastra 09”, the technical fest at IIT Madras, is neither a story to create nor an adventure to narrate but it is an experience worth reliving. It is always a pleasure to know where we stand at the all India level by competing with the best. Today we are proud to say that 4 of the 5 teams from NMAMIT won laurels in various competitions. Our journey from the west coast to the east coast began on the 29th September, 4:00 pm by the Chennai express. We traveled with loads of luggage and a team of 19, out of which 11 were from EC. (Here I mention luggage first because it weighed more than us). With all our excitement and anxiety about Shaastra, we reached Chennai half an hour prior to schedule. With guys like Lakku (our tamilian) on our side, we managed to argue with a cab driver to take us to the main gate of IIT.

Day 1: On reaching the hostel by 10 am, we still hadn’t done our morning duties. Somehow we found a patisserie shop. To suppress our hunger, we had food without even brushing…! After that came the disastrous wait in the sun to get accommodation (Someone also renamed shaastra as disastra). Finally by 2 we managed to get our rooms and immediately after having a bath we started our respective projects i.e., SCDC, Simchamp, Contraptions and The Rising. Having sleepless nights and foodless days was the routine for almost everyone except the Simchamp team.

Day 2: KK: Struggling with the circuit, we slept hardly for half an hour. Not getting the output, we were thinking of something new to make our circuit work. While Basti and his team were also in the same condition, GS was struggling with the soldron and PCB on his bed. The badam milk from the patisserie was our only nutrition for the full day. Raison was peeping from time to time to see our work progress. RD: In order to save more lives with our bot, we did some last minute changes to our code in the morning. Our event was scheduled for the afternoon. Being the last team to perform that day (2 IIT M teams performed the next day), we made it a point to showcase our code as better than the previous teams. We saved 36 with single bot and 86 with two bots. There was a cloud of nervousness on our heads. I and Kastury explained to the judges about the algorithm and code while Kenneth was giving time to time inputs on what must be explained.

Day 3: KK: In the morning, we were so unfortunate that we couldn’t watch the contraptions. At the same time we were worried because our circuit was not giving the desired output after combining the designed modules. The SCDC event was scheduled to be at 10. On reaching the event location, we were amazed to see some teams without even the circuits, some teams with non working circuits on the breadboard. We could breathe easily because our circuit was at least half working on PCB. The power of power electronics was evident from the working circuit of Basti, Sona, Vasu and Sandy. Ours was the first team to make the presentation. Pai was shivering on the dais. The judge was so happy to see our circuit on PCB and he came to know how to build it from us. At the same time Basti’s team also performed well up to the expected level. Ah… Finally some sleep. Having a small nap in the noon, we moved towards ‘Aerofest’ which included miniature plane models controlled by remote control. Their tactics in controlling the plane was amazing. When the audience requested for a Shakira move, the controller moved the plane vertically with shaking its belly. When we returned from Aerofest, we got to know that the Rising team won third place and the contraptions team had already lost. Our hope was fully on Simchamp because they were on top on the previous day with only two more IIT teams left. RD: The day started with the contraptions team setting up their module starting from 1:00 am!! Due to sleep loss they could not give their best performance and ended with a low score. We were totally disappointed. On the other side, SCDC event was taking place but we couldn’t attend it. Then we went to attend the remainder of our event, Simchamp. After sitting for 3 hours straight, the results were finally announced and we were ecstatic at winning the second place. We were on cloud nine. Our joy knew no bounds. Kastury wasn’t present when they announced the results, hence I and Kenneth had to go through the full thing again. This was just the start of greater things to come.

Day 4: KK: Our previous day had not ended till 5 in the morning. Though I had slept at 12, I was woken up at 5 by lakku . Opening my eyes I could see them fully energetic and they asked me to dance with them. They had danced at 3 too!!! Then we slept by 530 or so. Woke up by 9 in the morning, we had another competition-‘SHORT CIRCUIT’, both the SCDC teams formed 3 teams and participated. Then we roamed around the campus a bit and then had our lunch. Nap was a must in noon. Later in the evening, we SCDC teams planned to go to the Marina beach and then to THE CITICENTRE MALL. Catching the local train from the nearest station, we could reach the beach in only 20 minutes. It was a nice spot to lose the footwear and Basti’s sandals were drowned twice. Like a lifesaver, Ganesh was always ready to catch the sandals from the waves. He helped Basti to regain his sandals! On the way back from the beach, we found a nice shop selling seashells. Entering the mall, we could see the blend of royal architecture as well as the modern technology. By the time we reached third floor of the mall, all looked hungry. And Lakku was so desperate to taste the chicken in the KFC. Filling our stomach, we caught our train. Reaching the IIT gate, we realized that we had no bus to return to the hostel. No other way, had to walk back. But it was really a nice walk for 3km in the cool night. RD: The previous night was a bit noisy from the next room, but as usual we got good sleep. In the morning Kenny and Kastury were so stubborn to get up that I had to literally kick them out of their beds. We attended a hacking workshop which was really boring. Fortunately we could watch the air balloon event ‘The Rising’ . Few minutes into the event , and we were kicking ourselves for not taking part. Because of the 11 teams, only 3 balloons flew. The remaining either were too heavy or got burnt. In the midnight we attended one of the toughest quizzes ever. I and Kastury were irritated by the sheer nerdiness in those IITian jokes and left the venue at 2:00 am.

Day 5: KK & RD: We had a lot of free time for roaming AROUND. Planetarium was the first place we went to, but the next show was scheduled to begin in one more hour. Next was the Planetarium, which looked good in the beginning, but eventually as it continued, we got bored and Kenny was fast asleep. Moving out of planetarium, we decided to go to snake park of Guindy national park. Moving to entrance, we found that the Govt. was charging much for cameras than for the people. Lakku was in no mood to look at the snakes, he was just moving around looking at the people around. We were all hungry, so went to a hotel along with Karthik Kastury (he looted our pockets), who was our guide for Chennai for the moment. Later some of us wanted to buy some books, so went to Noor market. PC was bargaining so nicely that the shopkeeper finally agreed to sell the books for half of the price he initially argued for. On the way back we found a really nice sports shop where we had a lot to see (buying was tough, because almost everyone was running out of cash). Having our food in patisserie, sat there for some time talking about our Chennai and IIT days and how we will be missing it in future days. There was another bad news for us. We had to return our mattresses. Now, no other option, we had to sleep on the floor.

Day 6: KK & RD: Waking up early (sleeping on the floor had made our backbones pathetic). Now our work was to get our entire luggage to the entrance of Mahanadi hostel. We booked two cabs to make our luggage reach the Chennai central railway station before us. We found our train ‘WEST COAST EXPRESS’ and walked a long way to reach our sleeper coach bogie. As the train started moving, we were sad that we were going to miss Chennai and IIT. But we were also happy to return with the prizes. All were so lazy in the train that I began to think that the journey will be boring throughout. Once all woke up, the fun began with ‘SACH KA SAAMNA ‘(KK and pai revealed a lot) .And later we had dumb charades also. We noticed that the time was already 1030 when TT came and told us to sleep.

Day 7: Hmmm… the day began in Kudla itself. We were so happy to see our college again, but still we missed all the moments spent in IIT. EVERYDAY CAN’T BE A SHAASTRA DAY. Isn’t it?

Written by @Rakesh_KK and @RaisonD

Shaastra: Part 1

Mario’s sister s wedding was on Sunday. I didn’t go to Elias s house that night. Dad would not give me the permission anyways but that night me, raison and rajat did gang up and ask his permission to stay at elias s house the next night. With the permission got, i spent most of the day at home packing and then went over to raison s house. We started work on the contraptions that night and worked well into the morn. Last thing i remember is falling asleep at around 5. Waking up , i found rajat and pc had already left to college. Ashank, me and elias were left to do some work. At around 12 ashank went home to pack. I reached home much later at around 2:30 due to traffic. After this i had to pack and email a write up to the shaastra hospi ppl. Due to all this i was still at home at 3:30. The train left at 4:00. Now began the panic and also the last minute junk. Finally at 3:40 i left for the station in a rick and was so tensed about getting there in time. After some tense moments and a ‘run’ for it, i finally reached the compartment. The ‘run’ involved that i race carrying my heavy suitcase across platforms and across an overbridge racing against time. I was so damn exhausted by the end of it and it took me some time to settle down. In the course of time i forgot notify people that i’m leaving and also couldn’t return calls that i had missed taking or unknowingly picked up. Plus there was the paranoia of roaming charges, this was the first time i was using my cell out of the state.

The train journey wasn’t eventful. We spent most of our time adjusting to the seats, taking lessons in photography and doing nothing in particular. We were a bit spread out in the train. The bulk of us were in the same compartment while 4 of the others were about 5-6 compartments away. People shuffled between these two places. Food was eaten and my first forays into roaming calls started when my cell msgs were not going out. I think we slept around 11 after the sleeping system had been agreed upon., for eg. Who sleeps where and all that. Morning saw me getting up groggy at around 7 and not finding any tea on the train. Now i need tea to start the day, call it my poison.

Even after alighting down from the train i couldn’t find any tea. Avoiding porters and also thinking about our travel plans we made our way carrying our heavy luggage to the main entrance.

Finally with the help of the tamil speaking and understanding minority among us we were able to get a matador to drop us to the IIT campus spending about 1300 i guess. Karthik used to stay nearby when he was in Chennai and that helped us get familiar with the place and also to move about.

Seeing spotted deer was a pleasant surprise. In the IIT campus, wildlife lived in harmony with the interfering humans and even though the campus was within a national park we could see deer munching on accumulated garbage. One problem we faced was again transporting our luggage from the gate to the hostels which were quite far away from the IN gate. But with 19 of us that was not a problem for long. We invaded the next bus and got most of our stuff in it. We reached the hostels by 11 i guess. People went to eat and karthik went to wait in line for our hospi regs. That was one long reg line! Finally at around 2 i think we got our rooms. Until then you could have found us languishing in the hot sun outside Mahanadi with our luggage. We also met certain people we knew, from earlier fests or colleges.

We were allotted rooms in Mahanadi 548-551, the hostel which was serviced luckily by elevators of the monolingual and the bilingual kind. But surprise! The rooms were small, and by small we mean a one person only room and they expected 4 of us to fit in one. Me, raison and karthik decided to take the last room 551 which we had to share with an IIT kharagpur 3rd year student, shrey goyal, who had come to take part in The Symposium. We adjusted to him being in the room and he told me that this is one of the better boarding facilities provided at IITs during fests and we remembered how we had been treated at the VTU fest earlier and missed the comfort already. Comparison was inevitable when you have come across something which is superior indeed. We rushed to eat lunch and then came Back to adjust to the room. No mattresses or anything yet and we still had to start work on lot of our projects. Some slept and others went exploring. We sent people to get equipments and resources and other things. Everyone would be occupied for the next 3 days  to the max.


To be continued…

Going To Shaastra:Epitaph

Finally after the tension of being selected came the tension of booking tickets. The 28th of September is Vijayadashami so naturally a holiday which is why the trains on that day were booked full! a Group chat on Google kinda made things clear and eventually we decided to travel on the 29th and reach there on the 30th. The cost involved with the 15 of us would be quite a lot, when you consider the accomodation, food,etc for 5 days.

This is the epitaph of the ‘going to Shaastra’ post. Well we did go to Shaastra and boy! was it good. We won Second in Simulation Championship and other teams came third in Shaastra Circuit Design Challenge and The Rising. The More Detailed post will be coming up as soon as i get time to write it 🙂