The little one is ten years old already. Growing steadily every day, today, it stands tall and confident on its own legs, towering over most others, as everyone watches on with pride. It’s not without help though. Ever since the beginning, every person who has been associated with the little one has been responsible for pouring life into it, giving it roots for support, giving it wings to fly, and for all the echoes of precious laughter, wisdom and strength embedded deep inside.
On KMIT’s tenth birthday, we talk to some of these people, who’ve been able to mould it the way it is today.
The first person we went to interview was Nitin Sir. Unfortunately, he wasn’t available. After checking in for three times, we finally find him in his cabin, engrossed in a conversation with Abhishek sir. We explain what kMITRA wants to do for KMIT’s 10th birthday edition (which is, writing this article, if you guys haven’t guessed by now) and he readily agreed to an interview.
Our first question, obviously, is, “How did KMIT happen?” To this, he launches into the series of events that happened in 2004 like falling dominoes, which led to the birth of KMIT. Neil Sir and Nitin Sir worked with Genesis, and used to hire the auditorium to take classes. Pause. Tidbit: Nitin sir was Neil sir’s senior in college. Play. Whenever they visited the campus, Neil sir would always think about how there is a lot of open, unused space available and got to thinking “Why don’t we explore the possibility of having an educational institution here?” Also, back then, it was difficult to find people with sound technical skills for employment. The duo wanted to make KMIT a place where all the students would be industry ready. Soon, the wheels were put into motion and KMIT was born.
We then ask him what his most and least favourite things about KMIT were. He instantaneously replies that the one thing he likes best was the fact that they achieved what they wanted to and that the dream to make all the students industry ready keeps coming true time and time again for every batch that graduates. His list of least favourite things includes the limited space we have available and he is also sad that many good programs we have commenced have not seen an end.
Our last question to him was “Why is it that we don’t see much of you in the college?” He laughed and told us that Neil sir manages interacting with the students and taking classes while he manages all the planning and the finances, AICTE, JNTU affiliations. And, 30% of the students know him well as he manages seat allocation through the management quota.
Left to right: Srinivas sir, Subbu sir, Satyam sir, Sudheer sir
Our next stop was the Bhavishya Dwar, a place where we had sat for way too many hours than our fingers could count, conducting kMITRA meetings and also waiting our turn at interviews. We were greeted with warm smiles by our placement team.
Us: How long have you been with KMIT?
Satyam sir and Subbu sir: We’ve been with KMIT since the beginning so that makes it 10 years.
Sudheer sir: 8 years. I was there when the first ever batch of KMIT was placed.
Srinivas sir: 5 years. Not that long but long enough.
Us: What is the biggest challenge in placing students?
Satyam sir: Making students attend FS. Hands down.
Sudheer sir: Placing the first 100 students is very easy. They are very sincere. The next 100 becomes a little difficult as more training is necessary. Some students don’t attend FS. (Laughs) Why, for that matter, Lasya here attends FS very regularly but Sruthi doesn’t at all.
Srinivas sir: Another struggle is when students diligently attend Tapadia sir’s classes but skip aptitude and verbal. They are all equally important.
Us: Which was the year in which you’ve had the most fun?
Sudheer sir: The first batch was the golden batch. There were 240 students and 150 of them were in FS. It was our first time placing students and we had called 35 companies, all small ones or startups and it was quite difficult but most memorable.
Subbu sir: We had allocated FS1 and FS2 for those 150 students. There was 100% attendance every day. We knew all the names and even knew who sat where. It was the best.
Us: Which moment felt like the biggest achievement in KMIT?
Sudheer sir: There are 2 kinds of achievements. The first, a student getting placed in a very big company with a great package. And the second is when a student from a modest economic background with average scores gets placed.
Us: What are the perks of being the placement team?
They: We get huge support from the management and we directly report to Neil sir. And, there’s nothing you don’t know about the importance of placements.
P.S. A special mention to Mr. Rajendra Tapadia, the person who takes our Finishing School classes. We, unfortunately, couldn’t get an interview with him. He’s as much a part of the placement team as the 4 above. Without him, most of us would still be unemployed. Thank you, sir!
The first person we turned to for advice, even before the interview properly materialised. And the first person we think of interviewing. Ever smiling, wise beyond her years, and a stickler for fun, to us, Shweta ma’am is the very rock kMITRA has been built upon. She’s been with KMIT since 2011. Part-time until 2014 and full-time then onwards.
When we ask her what her happiest moments in KMIT are, she asks back, “In KMIT? Or because of KMIT?”, and we tell her we’ll take both. If it’s in KMIT, then I’d have to say the first time we organized Halloween, she says. It was a lot of fun. If it’s because of KMIT, then in 2015, we got nominated for the Cambridge awards and went into the finals too. I got to go on an all-expense paid trip to Cambridge.
When asked about the things she’d like to change about KMIT, she immediately said, “The students’ mentality towards everything. You guys are not serious enough. Everything is a one-day-wonder and that is something I’d really want to change.”
“You are known as ‘the BEC ma’am’. How did BEC materialise in KMIT?”
“In 2011, Virtusa had visited the campus and told Neil sir about how KMIT’s students could have leverage over the others by taking certifications in business communication. The management was on the lookout for someone who can take these classes. I was on a sabbatical at that time and the then principal A K Asthana’s son, a family friend, contacted me regarding the same and I took it up.”
Wondering where else to go and who else we’ve left out, we make our way to the badminton court, and then, suddenly realize that we haven’t been to speak to librarian yet. Hastily scribbling down a few questions, we go the one place we have always felt welcome whenever the canteen was a no-go, and that is the library. We found Ms. Sabitha, surrounded by a pile of books, typing away at her computer, and she was pleasantly surprised when we tell her what we came for.
Us: How long have you been in KMIT?
She: Since the beginning, that is 2007.
Us: What is an ordinary day like in KMIT?
She: (Issuing a forgotten card back to a student) we deal mainly with the issues and returns of the books, and stamping new arrivals. We also issue cards for new registrations and enter the accession numbers for every book.
Us: How many people visit the library on an average every day?
She: Usually, probably up to a hundred. But due to the NBA accreditation, we’ve had 200 to 250 coming in too.
Us: What is the longest time a person has borrowed a book?
She: There have been people who borrow books in the first year and return them after the fourth year too! Only, they don’t return them, they replace them with new ones.
Rupali (left), Sharayu (right)
The E-block, apart from containing the director’s office, is also famously known by the students as the gate pass block. It is tiring enough to go from one faculty member to another, asking for gate passes, just to escape college and sit in the familiarity of a cinema hall, but even more so, for them to listen to all the excuses doled out, and also assess them for their validity. We speak to Rupali and Sharayu madams, the foundation of the E-block.
Us: How long have you been with KMIT?
They: For a year to a year and a half now.
Us: What do you do on an ordinary day?
They: We deal with the gate passes. We send text messages to the students about classes and exams and events. We also take care of the Sanjaya and the Netra apps, and deal with all of the student and parents’ queries.
Us: What are the dumbest excuses students have given you to get out of college?
They: (laugh) Always a health issue. Something or the other. Even the boys complain of stomach aches. Otherwise, it’s a dental appointment. Either this or someone expired. We know they’re off to the movies but we write down ‘health issues’ in our files.
Ticking and striking off names on our list of people to interview, we find Surender Reddy sir in the canteen. He had helped us out on many occasions; especially during LIT UP last October. Shooting questions back and forth between ourselves we reached a point where the both of us agreed on the questions we wanted to ask. We quickly approached him and told him about our article. He thought for a few seconds and said agreed to answer our questions.
He’s been with KMIT since 2011 and had previously worked with a school as an in-charge of maintenance. He does the same with as well. He’s also responsible for student discipline. (So students, better behave!) His day starts at 8:00 with overseeing the sweeping and cleaning duties carried out by the ayahs. An average workday ends at 7:00 with locking up the college. When asked about the problems he encounters, he told us there are very minor issues with students and parents too sometimes which are resolved almost immediately. We conclude our interview by asking him what he liked most about the college and he smilingly replied that it’s the students. He feels that the students are very good, highly disciplined and much nicer compared to other colleges. (Yay!!)
And finally, we get into the one we’re personally most excited about, the canteen. Undoubtedly, and quite conveniently, the four pillars of the canteen are the main counter, the Frankie, juice, and the chaat counters.
We make our way to the Frankie counter first, where frankie aunty (that’s what we privately called her until she told us her name is Madhavi) is cleaning up, in the short and unusual lull of students. Her counterpart, Renuka is missing in action for the day and she takes up the load of tending to everyone’s orders at once. All her sentences end in a kindly ‘ra’, or a ‘nanna’, which stand as an equivalent to ‘dear’. She immediately agrees to an interview.
Us: How long have you been in KMIT?
She: Four years.
Us: Out of all the dishes, which one is the most popular?
She: The children like all the dishes, but everyone likes the sandwich. The paneer sandwich.
Us: If you had a choice, which item would you like to get in?
She: The children clamour for pizza all the time, and we’re trying to get it in.
Us: How has your interaction been with the students?
She: (smiles) they are very friendly always. I’ve had no problems with them ever.
Omkar bhaiyya, who mans the chaat counter, is a compliant person, always smiling. As we reach him, he immediately hands out Styrofoam platters, for us to balance golgappe in, and starts stirring the pot with the mint and cilantro flavoured water. We smile, shaking our heads, explaining to him our reason for being there. He smiles back, and complies with the interview.
He’s been in KMIT for six years, he says, as he starts working on an order of masala puri. As soon as we finish the question to the most popular dish, we chime in the answer too ourselves, ‘Pani Puri’, together. ‘Haa, that too’, he says, smiling timidly, but maintains that the samosa chaat gets sold out the most.
When asked about the dish he’d like to get in, he replies almost immediately. ‘Pav bhaji. Hopefully, I will have it here soon.’ We nod and agree feverishly. The students and faculty are very friendly. The only problem he faces is in the rainy season when the blue tarpaulin above gets too crowded with the accumulated rain and he has to dispel the water from time to time, by angling it to the ground. He signs off as he turns to another call of ‘bhaiyya’. It’s evident he’s happy here.
For the first time maybe since we’ve joined the college, we see the uncle at the main counter(Srinivas), resting his feet on the ledge outside, his trademark moustache and the towel slung down his neck, all in place. Usually, we see him in full swing, managing all the orders, and also effectively controlling the hullabaloo of students demanding food.
Us: How long have you been in KMIT?
He: Five years.
Us: Do you face any problems in the college?
He: I only wish we had a bigger counter. It gets difficult sometimes, with all the rush and noise. There is no problem with the students, but sometimes, they can get very impatient, hurrying us for their food.
Us: Which dish would you like to get in?
He: I know we cannot have it here, but the students always request for non-vegetarian food.
Us: The most popular item?
He: Manchuria. (Smiles) Everyone loves the Manchuria. That has got to be the most popular dish here.
Juice bhaiyya, (we admit, that is not the nicest name out there), interestingly, goes by one of the most arresting names there is, in the country – Shah Rukh.
He’s been in KMIT for an impressive ten years, and finds everyone amiable and friendly. It shows, considering he’s stayed on since the college’s inception.
Banana choco-milk and fruit salad are a huge hit with the students, he claims and customers frequently line up for seasonal fruit juices, like the mango and the sapodilla.
We cautiously approach one of the security guards (P.Srinivas), one against whom we’ve nursed a personal vendetta, for having shooed us from the canteen, many a time, with his untiring and frankly irritating whistle. He almost means to drive us away again, and we sigh and explain ourselves, again.
His stern eyes softening, he almost smiles as he waits for the questions. He’s been in the college for four months. He works from 9 to 6, and his prime duties consist of guarding the gates, the canteen and helping at the parking. His hardest job predictably is getting students out of the canteen, as students adamantly refused to move. We grin at each other at this, both of us guilty.
When we asked him his favourite thing about the college, we expected him to talk about how nice the faculty and students are, but his answer is refreshing. “The ground. I like this ground”, he says simply. He signs off by posing for a photograph for us in front of the ground he loves so much.
When we ask the peons (Ranjith and Karunakar) to give us an interview, their initial reaction was one of surprise. They smile nervously, as they ask, “Why us?” With a little coaxing from us and a helpful faculty member, they finally agree, albeit still hesitant.
Us: How long have you been with KMIT?
Ranjith: I joined in 2007.
Karunakar: I’ve been here for 10 years.
Us: What are your timings? What do you do on a daily basis?
Ranjith: Opening the locks to the labs, offices and classrooms, getting everything ready for Neil sir’s class and taking care of the E-block. I work from 8:30 A.M to 3 P.M.
Karunakar: Usually, I open all the locks; I take water and tea to the faculty in the placement block and check on the labs, from 10 to 7:30 P.M. During the placements though, my timings get reversed, and I’m here from 7 to sometimes, 11 in the night. I tend to the recruiters’ needs- their tea, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Us: When have you been the happiest?
Ranjith: (laughs) I am always happy. But Patangotsav has to be the best day.
Us: What has been the most difficult time for you?
Ranjith and Karunakar: The inspection duty was a tough time, since we had a lot of work to do.
Meera, Jyothi, Radha, Jayanthi
Though they go about perpetually unnoticed, one could feel their presence everywhere- in the grounds, with not a twig out of place, in the scrubbed corridors, in the neat classrooms, and in the empty cups of tea, which sat on the staff tables, waiting to be whisked away.
We catch up with four of the ayahs, Jayanthi, Jyothi, Meera and Radha, sauntering in the grounds, enjoying the cool breeze of that day. When requested for an interview, they look at one another hesitantly, mumbling an apology, saying they had to be elsewhere. When we press on, telling them it wouldn’t last for more than two minutes, they submit, with a meek yes, while twisting the free ends of their saris.
All of them have been in KMIT for ten years odd now, and they look content and proud to be here. Sweeping the grounds, classrooms, labs, offices, and the bathrooms, mopping them, taking in tea, distributing additional sheets and threads for exams, makes up an ordinary day for them from 8:30 A.M to 5:30 P.M.
When asked about their happiest day, their eyes light up, and all of them unanimously agree to the ‘Patangotsav’, the day for Sankranti celebrations in KMIT. As for their most difficult time, it was the inspection period, as we predicted rightly, when a bout of double checking and cleaning and rubbing ensued.
As Mother Teresa once said, “…the ocean would be less because of the missing drop”. Though cliché, every word rings true.
For all the countless meetings, decisions and choices you’ve had to make.
For all the students you’ve placed, and your insurmountable guidance.
For the countless classes that have been taught, and graciousness.
For every book that has ever gone out from the library, and sometimes never returned.
For every gate pass, that’s provided the much-needed respite from college.
For every functioning limb in college.
For all the times you’ve driven us away from canteen (though we still don’t like it), and your untiring patience.
For every plate of food that’s gone out, always with love.
For every lock that has been opened, letting us in.
For every room that’s been swept, only for us to mess it up again.
For every single day we’ve come to college, only to make us feel at home again.
Picture credits: Tejas Konakanchi