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My time travel machine: VNIT NAAM

I initially wrote this post as an official report/article for VNIT NAAM 2018 – July 28th – 29th that happened in Fairfax, VA. Hope you enjoy reading it. Apologies if some things are non-relatable. 

A large hall in the heart of the city, Washington DC, occupied with 70-80 people with kaleidoscopic lights to adorn it, a man, dressed to impress, with a bold voice grabbed the attention of the still settling attendees, “LAD, block 8, Bermuda triangle, Dharampeth, ad building, RKT… If these words don’t make sense to you, you are in the wrong party. And if you are asking what is this Chandrama, you better get out.”. A huge laughter spread in the room with a nostalgic trip. Amar Trivedi (1992) greeted everyone with a warm welcome to VNIT NAAM 2018.

The event was kicked off in the afternoon with some formal and informal interactions among the attendees. Dr. Padole (1982), the newly appointed Director of VNIT, congratulated everyone via video message for attending VNIT NAAM 2018 and expressed his feelings with pure delight on how VNIT is being recognized on a global level. While newly elected director of VNIT Alumni Association, Medha Nadgir (1989), shed some light upon the current state of VNIT and VNITAA, deeply ingrained college festivities and customs were exchanged: Axis, Arohi, Consortium, Prayaas etc. Ved Gupta (1975) and Satish Salpekar (1975) took us down memory lane and introduced us to some things that they used during college days, which can now only be seen in museums! Adrish Sannyasi (1996) shared his views through a TED Talk on entrepreneurship opportunities in the healthcare sector.

Mr. Achalesh Amar was recognized for his outstanding social work with Sewa international. Like many of us think how we could do our bit towards India by being in the US. He had a great example of an incident where a group of tech-savvy engineers in the US helped a woman in labor during the Chennai floods. He drove home the point that we can give back to India using our tan, man, or dhan. We can donate monetarily when we have some dispensable income, but that doesn’t stop us from utilizing our tan (body) and man (intellect) for helping tackle the societal problem in India or anywhere in the world for that matter.

Later in the evening, while everyone was helping themselves to starters, the talent performances were served along with a delicious dinner. A father-daughter duo, Aniruddha Garud (1992) and Isha, breaking all the stereotypes put everyone in awe with their amazing performance of Kuchipudi dance. Everyone was amazed by the grace and patience with which he coordinated with his 10-year old. Indeed, ‘kajrare’ of Bachchans was soon forgotten. We also had a self-taught Piano-ist, Varun Nadgir, son of Medha Nadgir, perform a couple of songs from his repertoire. As youngsters were stealing the show, Mr. Shailesh Sharma (1992) mesmerized the crowd with his voice by singing “Hosh walo ko khabar Kya” from movie Sarfarosh. Mr. Nilesh (1992) added a variety with another beautiful singing performance. As the moon cheered its surroundings, the talks elevated, interactions multiplied, experiences got exchanged, life lessons got shared. Slowly the night kicked in to hear the VNIT days from the class of 1975 when Mr. M. Kaushik and Mr.Ved Gupta shared those days of VRCE.

This full-moon night, there were not as many stars in the sky, cause many of them were swaying on the dance floor. NAAM organizers made sure to bring out Michael Jackson in each one of us. With the talented Bollywood DJ, exceptional dance moves, and enthusiastic people, the night was more than just brightened. From “khaike pan banaraswala” to “high heels” everyone from 1975 to 2014 batch danced their moves off.

Remember the MiG aircraft in front of the admin building? The next day, some of us visited the flight museum and made a point of having attended a “VRCE/VNIT” alumni meet in a true sense. Kudos!

The meet concluded with the same feeling as of farewell from the beautiful campus of VNIT. Uncertainty in life, then, couldn’t fathom the meaning of soon in “see you soon”. But this time it was different. They said, “See you in NAAM 2019”

No event is perfect without many helping hands, sleepless nights, and tireless efforts. Everyone’s favorite, an inspiration of strength and leadership, Medha Nadgir – recognizing her efforts in driving VNITAA is just a small piece of appreciation. Her contribution and guidance in making NAAM 2018 an impeccable event were not at all eclipsed by her severe leg injuries. Hats off! We need leaders like you to encourage many other leaders. It won’t be much of a play if people behind the scenes along with the on-screen artists were missed out to be appreciated. Thank you, Sandhya Singh (1985), Amar Trivedi (1992), Kishan Nair (1984), Manoj Bhagwat (1984), and Gopalan Krishnamurthi (1984), for taking the lead in organizing the event. Sayali Patil (2014), Akash Nikam (2014), Saurabh Gajbi (2014), Gaurav Deshpande (2013), Vaibhav Rungta (2011), and me, Swaroopa Kadam (2014) stepped up to help in various ways. Thanks to all the volunteers, performers, and attendees for making NAAM 2018 a huge success. It’s time to make the next one even more huge.

Cheers!

VNIT Alumni Meet 2018

VNIT Alumni Meet 2018


 

My take away:

I received my undergraduate degree four years ago. Without being an exception, I was soon focused on performing in the rat race. My classmates and I were in touch until what they called life happened and everyone became busy in their own race. Then, it was a time of realization, time to take a pause, sit back and relax for a while, soak the fact of having one common root — VNIT.

About two years ago, I became a part of a WhatsApp group. Just like many others, I had put it on mute. But, my day never ended without reading, understanding, and synching in the information. It was a different kind of group: formed of smart and ambitious people (not me, I am a mute spectator yet), filled with experiences, guidance, mentoring, appreciation, little of hand-holding, more of pep talks, distinguished conversations — VNITAA NA Chapter (and/or uss group). Last week, I got an opportunity to meet some of them and thank them in person, courtesy North America Alumni Meet 2018. I couldn’t have been more grateful for this.

So, here I gathered 10 reasons why I would attend NAAM next year:

1. Huge professional networking opportunity

Small talk? Sure! After all, many small steps make a big leap. Go out in the crowd, find someone/some group to talk to and take a step towards a better career with more decisiveness. There is a huge huge huge networking opportunity. It is meaningless to explain why it is so emphasized upon.

2. Meeting people outside of your social circle 

Social circle is a distorted term these days. Thanks to someone whose name rhymes with glutenberg. It’s an absolute treat for an outgoing person like me. But, don’t worry, an initial greeting is okay, too. Rest will be taken care. You are assured to meet someone in NAAM whose success you would brag about.

3. Mentoring opportunity

Looking for a mentor? Attend NAAM. Looking for a mentee? Attend NAAM.

4. Never forget the roots

We all branched out from one of the most premier institutes in India. Given the knowledge we got, the life lessons we learned, and the fun we had, it is difficult to not to be a proud VRCE/VNIT-ian. NAAM is the place to make it sound like one.

5. Showcase your talent

NAAM opens up a stage for all the performers out there. Let me also learn about your talent and appreciate it like many others. Afterall “before money and success, an artist needs appreciation.”

6. A walk into memory lanes

Guest house ki galiyon mein toh bht walk karli! It’s time to take a stroll into the memory lanes. Be ready to be thrown at random nostalgia from college days, be it Chandrama, hostel, ig, mass bunks, pongal, student council etc. Shoot. I am nostalgic again! “Yaadein mithai ke dibbe ki tarah hoti hai … ek baar khula toh sirf ek tukda nahi kha paoge.”

7. A balance of “having meaning” and “having fun” in life

Most of us lead our lives following two philosophies — ‘having meaning’ or ‘having fun’. ‘Having meaning’ is when we dedicate our life to some life goal(s) and work diligently towards it. ‘Having fun’ is when we simply do the things that make us happy, things that are enjoyable. NAAM is an excellent example of having a perfect balance of these two life approaches.

8. Pay-it-forward

Woody Hayes, the celebrated Ohio State football coach once said — You can pay back only seldom. But you can always pay forward, and you must pay line for line, deed for deed, and cent for cent. There is no denying that I would probably not be in my current position if it was not for the selfless help of friends, seniors, teachers, parents, relatives, and even well-meaning strangers. It’s not always possible to ‘repay’ the person who helped us, but we can always pass on that favor to someone else in the need and help to collectively build a better world. NAAM provides a great means to exactly do that.

9. Great food and a dance floor

Authentic Indian food with authentic VNIT dance floor — Lohri, Navratri, friendship day, Ganapati, and many other festivals which I can think of and be like “That’s my song!!” with some dance moves.

10. Explore a new city

Organizers make a point of hosting NAAM in a different city every year. Let’s say, I’ll get a reason and chance to tick that place off of my list by exploring with many other VRCE/VNITians.

And on top of this, helping each other grow goes long way towards the betterment of the society, in this case, the betterment of the family, the VRCE/VNIT family.

See you at NAAM 2019 in NJ!

Thank you.

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