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On the Similarities between IITIANS and Potatoes.

November 15, 2010

My earliest memory of fine dining at IIT-KGP is Sunday dinners where “paneer” replaced the potato in our weekly menu lineup. (The origin of p2p?) All other days, the menu featured a binomial series: Potato + A, Potato + B, Potato + C, and so on. At times, in the interest of variety, we even had Potato on its own. While the omnipresent potato did contribute the bulk of my diet at IIT (the effects still linger), the similarities between the humble spud and the humble IITIAN don’t end there…

Potatoes are common.

There are about 100 varieties of edible potatoes, classified as mature or new. At IIT, we went in as new and came out rather mature. Or so we thought. Of course, today one comes across half-baked specialists, couch potatoes and overcooked big shots emerging from the ever-increasing number of IIT’s planted all over India.

Potatoes are environmentally friendly.

Potatoes are cheap and easy to grow; plus they don’t need fertilizers or chemical additives to thrive. Save for the last point, I would slot all IITIANS I know into the same group.

A Potato is 20% solid and 80% water.

IIITIANS have 20% real substance and the rest is all fluid mechanics. Four years of swimming against the tide helps us keep our heads above the water, no matter how stormy it gets.

Potatoes contain significant amounts of vitamin B6, which aids in athletic performance and endurance, as well as neurological activity.

Many IITIANS displayed their athletic prowess at Inter-IIT Sports Meets. On campus though, their feats of endurance usually involved dancing at Victory Parades and weeklong rooftop drinking sessions. As for neurological activity, there was clearly a surfeit of it at IIT, especially during the Freshers “orientation”. From the couch in my shrink’s wood-paneled office, I am often transported to smoky rooms filled with seniors firing questions at me – “Recite Pi to 20 digits”, or the more enigmatic “What’s my name, year and department?”… Huh?

The Potato was the first food to be grown in Space.

IITIANS have often gone where no sane man (or woman) has gone before. There was a spaced out variety of IITIANS who spent entire nights on hostel rooftops staring up at the Cosmos. In those days, IIT felt like another planet altogether and these characters were just out of this world.

In the US, Potato products are the second most consumed food group.

If they were a food group, IITIANS would be the first. The US has always had an insatiable appetite for IITIANS. Even in the days of severely curtailed H1B quotas, having an IIT degree gave you automatic entry to the USA. Most of my classmates moved to the US almost immediately upon graduation. Of course, now that opportunities are opening up in India, there are signs of a reverse brain drain. And everyone’s headed for the Aloo Tikkis.

– Ram Kapoor (aka Blondie)
IIT-KGP 1987
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