Before I start, I’d like to put forth a disclaimer. This entry could be extremely boring and lame for people who aren’t part of the SNAAKS. It could be entirely true that only the people belonging to the SNAAKS appreciate what I’m writing. So if you find it anything but interesting, feel free to stop reading and leave.
On a warm summer evening of 2014, a sudden rumour started in our college premises that the Computer Science Department students were forming three member groups for the final year project and fixing up with different professors to be their project guides for the following academic year. A quick verification confirmed that it was not a rumour, and people were desperately and hurriedly forming groups and approaching the faculty.
Now, as an average student who was incapable of programming, my options were limited. I could either partner my close friends who were mostly similar, which would result in a bad project, or split up and team up with high flying friends which would guarantee an S grade and reduce responsibility in the process. One such average friend was Abraham John, or AJ as we called him, with similar aspirations and grades as mine. Both of us decided we’d pair up with each other, and found a third who was also very similar to us but had a flair for programming. But what we didn’t know was, the third person had committed to be part of another team as well, which left the two of us stranded.
Before we had time to think, everyone else had formed teams and nobody was left. Except for one person – Sashank aka Snx. Snx is a carefree, nonchalant and happy-go-lucky person who nobody wanted to take because everyone was super competitive and wanted a good project which could turn out to be a publish-worthy paper as well as get good grades. AJ and I thought hard, came up with pros and cons, and in the end decided to take him. Whatever happens in the end, we weren’t willing to let one of our own suffer. Even if it comes at the expense of the project. Here we were, three people who didn’t know one bit of coding, getting together to do an ambitious project.
The next part was about getting a project guide. Our requirement was simple. A guide who isn’t overly demanding, clearly knowing our capabilities. But beggars aren’t choosers, and all the big names were gone. Except for one: Dr. K Selvamani, Associate Professor and Deputy Director of CUIC (Centre for University Industry Collaboration). He was a very feared and short tempered person, and we went ahead only because we needed someone reasonably big and the remaining ones at that time were only visiting faculties and teaching fellows. A lot of people raised eyebrows. They sarcastically wished us luck. Nobody in their right minds would pick Selva, as he was popularly known.
Now that everything was set, all that was left was getting a cool name. Every wannabe cool team has a cool name and we were no different. Right there, we came up with the SNAAKS – Sashank Narayan Aahir AJ K Selvamani. What we did in our project was immaterial. The important thing was to have fun. Ten years down the line, nobody is going to remember if they got an A or B in their final year projects. They’re going to remember the memories they made together in college – unarguably the best phase of one’s life. And boy, did we have fun!
The SNAAKS facts:
We were officially inducted on September 21st – which we call it the SNAAKS day.
We had three homes during those seven months. Snx’s house, an empty room in Kurinji hostel where we conducted experiments, and Hot Rotis – a shack in Adambakkam which we found on a trip to an RFID leaser’s office.
No SNAAKS meet was complete without snacks. We had very few principles like this one, which we stuck to.
We got blasted in each of the four reviews leading to the final review, made to change our project for lack of complexity, innovation, etc. We were the quintessential goat for slaughter.
Except at the final review, where all our fears were put to rest as our project guide made his entry and his sheer presence and rapport with the panel members meant the panel couldn’t screw us. All this because, out of the three teams under him, we were the ones who met him the maximum number of times and hence he had a soft corner. Rest of the teams didn’t not meet him because they were lazy or something, but simply because they were too afraid of him. And when Dr. Selvamani decides to back you, nothing can go wrong. Such is his name and glory.
Every time, a different person had to call him to ask doubts (just kidding, we never had doubts) or to know where he was so we can go meet him, just to prevent getting blasted for something random. The rush of panic we got before consulting him every single time cannot even be compared.
Those jealous looks we got when we were laughing and fooling a day before review while others were working their asses off to get 93% accuracy was never more satisfying. It was not because we had completed our tasks. It was because we didn’t know jack shit and knew we’d get screwed in the review, but we didn’t care anyway. That’s who we were.
When Snx completed the latex project documentation end to end and we discovered we were the first team out of 70 to complete it, a feeling of achievement came to us which we never ever had before. Even our year topper came and asked him doubts on how to write in Latex.
In the end, nobody was happier when the final semester results came and we had discovered we had gotten a B grade. We celebrated like we had got a patent approved. It wasn’t about grades or studies for us. It was about the fun we had together.
Overall, we lived college life in the final year without a single regret. We realised, something as serious and considered end of the world by people can be turned into something fun and cherishable. Though the three of us are in three different parts of India, the bond forged continues to take us along. Even now, every month we have a SNAAKS Skype session and make sure the SNAAKS legacy lives on for all to see.
We’re not just a final year project group. Adhukkum mela.