Like all good things, our WASE program also had to come to an end and it did, but not before four years of testing emotions and efforts. I’m not sure which one was more. Of course it was a big relief and I’m quite sure none of the ex-WASEians would want to contradict me now –almost eight months hence. As with all the semesters, out eighth semester was equally dramatic… but the end was a state of exhilaration to such an extent that the feeling started to elude as the D-day came closer. I went through all emotions right from fear to happiness and ultimately a feeling of nothingness in the final two hours. I had finished WASE. I knew that the feeling of euphoria would be short-lived, where it was just me and my thoughts… me and my thoughts of completing WASE. I didn’t want to think of the future or of the past… For those approximately 120 seconds or so, time stood still… my mind was blank as I stared into the vast openness of the Wipro campus. And to make the feeling sink in, I told myself “It’s all over… WASE is over… My WASE is over.” WASE has and will always be a major milestone of my not-so-spectacular academic life.
The end of WASE, the dream of a two day holiday weekend didn’t wait for WASE to get over. It started about one semester back… when we had finished our seventh semester exams. With only one semester between us and employment, we thought the next four months would be a cake-walk. Our perception was not wrong except for the days when the submission dates for the project were looming nearby.
I was always amazed by the capability of static analysis techniques to report major bugs quite early in the software development cycle and hence I had decided to do a project in the same field. Since the project was close to my heart, lack of dedication was not a question at all but even then it was marred with a few surprises, and that too at very wrong times… close to the end; all due to varied visions of various stakeholders. I found little solace looking at a similar chaos all around me with my fellow batch-mates. No, I was not alone… though my project was a bit different; we all were sailing in the same boat.
As the end date came nearer, my desperation to complete the project documentation and just submit the papers overthrew my dedication towards the project.
A few weeks hence, our project presentation was scheduled and believe me, the ghost of a “repeat semester” loomed heavy in the air… luckily it was not only me who felt that way. Having come this far, we were just not willing to extend the program any more. Our entire batch was evenly distributed into groups to be reviewed on different dates by different panel members.
As if the last minute rushes to submit the papers were not enough to get us anxious, the list of panel members when it was made public, made it look minuscule. The names sent a chill down our spine as we all endorsed the fact that the inevitable was about to happen. Old wounds were savagely opened. Scores had to be settled. It’s not over till its over.
By the end of the first day the verdict was out, battle lines had been drawn. Group A, B and D was being grilled and more often then not with out-of-context questions. For the logical questions, a few of our guys were dumbstruck and were having issues with communicating the project concept to the panel. The panel had consisted of professors who had at one point of time taught us in the last seven semesters. Some were good and some were hated.
My presentation was on the last date of all the days and that did give me enough time to gauge what the panels were looking for. But the only panel which happen to be talked about were A, B and D. I was to present to the E panel which luckily happened to be tooth-less and nail-less; nevertheless I took all precautions in my presentations slides, while preparing for it.
On the D-day, I was never as proud to don my Wipro shirt as I was that day. I was clear in my message to my panel: You are reviewing a Wiproite, a Wipro project was under way and there are much smarter brains at work behind the project concept. Believe me, the clear demarcation of territories helped turn the tides on our favor. My project concept stuck the panel as something distinctive and within minutes of providing the introduction they started showing keen interest in the project findings. The questions were logical and I enjoyed answering them as I loosened up and realized that I might get through quite comfortably.
My presentation lasted around 25 minutes and when I came out from the discussion, I had expected life to be different… I had completed my WASE… but why did I still feel same? Was I still the same? I didn’t feel something phenomenal, but as I walked a little bit away from the clamor and stood in solitude, it was all coming back to me… the invite for WASE, the trip to Bangalore with very little hope to clear the test, the bond signing, the first day at Wipro, the trainings in the first month, the canteen, the amphi theatre, the early morning bus rides through sparse traffic to reach the EC campus on a Saturday morning, the mid and end semester exams and last but not the least, the classes of the semesters… all this and more came back to me… all memories right up-to the very moment where I found myself standing there… staring at no-where and telling myself- “It’s all over… WASE is over… My WASE is over.”
Of-course not everyone shared my panel and the luck that came with it. Bhav, a very close friend of mine had a demon as a member for his panel, lets name him Mr. J. Our panel member did not share a very pleasant rapport with the entire batch and I can assure you that the feeling was mutual. Mr. J had achieved the rare distinction of not taking notice of life beyond the 8086 micro-processor and when Bhav had explained his project on Supply Chain Management, it was not surprising to see the Mr. J stare as a 10 year old was being explained the concept of Integral Algebra. Not to mention, Bhav’s 15 minutes presentation was a little too much for his [peanut sized] brain and having hurt his ego with enough unknown knowledge he asked Bhav to stop his presentation and declare that he understood nothing. Neither do we expect you to know it Mr. J, life has moved much ahead. After a few futile efforts, Mr. J asked Bhav to either take a “FAIR” rating or come up with a fresh presentation a couple of days later. Bhav was asked to report his decision in the next half an hour. Bhav consulted a few people who belong to the IT industry and came to the common conclusion that: (a) how much ever he tried, he might be able to teach a donkey about Supply Chain Management but Mr. J (b) Mr. J was still nursing old wounds of the past years and would not let go of Bhav so easily, and (c) last but not the least, Bhav like all other wanted it to be over once and for all.
The encounter had reached a much higher altitude; it was no longer confined to the walls of the assessment room. For Bhav it would be better if he took a back step and agreed with what Mr. J had to offer. With his decision made Bhav met Mr. J again and conveyed his willingness for a FAIR rating. Mr. J had just started enjoying this combat and Bhav raise the white flag… this pissed him off and he stared at the unexpected twist, unsure of how to respond, with bloodshot eyes. Bhav smelt revenge and just to have some fun asked him if he would stick to his words and award him a FAIR rating. This time his already bloodshot eyes sputtered enough venom to kill himself. Having settled his score, Bhav had a dramatic ending to his WASE as he closed the door behind him and walk with a light heart.
A month or so later we received our provisional grades and one of my greatest achievements in life slipped down memory lane. Like it’s said—“Savor the journey, the destination is a mere state of mind.” Our WASE was also a journey and if we try to find that one exact moment when we felt elated—for me it would be the entire journey.