It is an indisputable fact that the student is the most important component of the college. Not only do they go on to become capable and valued cogs of society, but the student body as such, paints an accurate reflection of a college’s culture. In a campus like NITT, where every person enrolled has had to pass through an extremely challenging selection process, some level of entitlement is a forgivable given.
Fulfilling all the needs and requirements of these students, mundane or otherwise, is not an easy task. But there are a few individuals on campus who successfully keep the machine humming quietly, day-in and day-out. They’re not prominent, choosing instead to apply a matter-of-fact demeanour to all aspects of their interactions with students. Everyone knows them of course. Whether it is for something as important as preparing the sound equipment for programmes in the barn, or for some lip-smackingly cold fruit juice, everyone knows these individuals. But – do we really know them?
Maybe these people have a passion of their own. Just like us. Perhaps, for a few, working at a stall on campus is not the be all and end all. Maybe, just like us, they too are looking for the next opportunity to further their own lives. Who knows? They probably have family who call at the most inconvenient time of the day too.
The point is, the stories of the lives of the people in this cover story aren’t really that well known. Which is sad, because some of them are surprising and truly inspirational, and deserve to be told.
Life doesn’t always have to be with us as the protagonist. Sometimes, hearing the story of another can teach us more than what we can learn and perceive from our own experiences. That being said, read on to hear about “The Unsung Heroes of NIT-T”.
- Mr. A Pitchai Kumar – Octa librarian and unofficial photographer of NITT
“I’ve been working here for about eighteen years now, as a librarian. I live in the PG quarters of the campus, but I’m a native of Trichy. I completed my B.Sc at Bishop Heber college and after that, I did my PG in Master of Library and Information Sciences (MLIS) at Annamalai University.
I started off as a Library Assistant and eventually, I worked up the ladder to become the librarian of the Octa Library. It’s a quiet place, very conducive for studying and learning. Over the years, we’ve accumulated an extensive collection of books and magazines on computer science, programming and electronics. Currently we have around 5800 books, 3600 software CDs and 200 project theses.
I try to make the library as student-friendly as possible. We stay open from 9 to 5 on weekdays, except on Saturday, when we close at 1. I would like for the library to become a place that serves the students. I always remind my regular visitors to tell their friends about the existence of the library. I’ve seen too many a 4th year who, at the time of collecting his No Dues slip finds out about this facility for the first time – and feels that he’s missed out on a lot.
I occasionally stand in as a photographer for a few official campus events – but only if there was nobody else to do it. The first time I ever took proper photography was when I was requested to take photos of campus buildings and on-site constructions for the college website. Even today, most of the photos of buildings on our website are mine.
I’ve never been given any formal training or instruction, much as I’d like to have some. I think, If I had some technical know-how regarding photography, I can deliver output of better quality. For me, photography is a means to become self-satisfied. I believe that if I’m going to do something, I have to give it all my effort – so I learn whenever possible.”
For any queries regarding the library, Mr Pitchai can be reached at email@example.com
- StaffC Anna
Mr. Rajagopal AKA Staff C Anna, the unassuming cool drink vendor at Staff Canteen. He’s there at the peak hours managing the crowd’s orders of Vadas and drinks.
“I hail from a village called Soundippatti in Thirunelveli. I shifted to Trichy 20 years back; I’ve been in this campus for about 10 years. From the canteen’s birth, till now I have been in-charge of it.
I started work in this campus as the manager of Vasantha Bhavan and when their contract ended I requested the then director Mr.Chidambaram to continue to employ me. He obliged and allotted Rs.60,000 to build this “Staff Canteen”. With this initial backing this place grew to what it is now under my supervision.
I come from a community of people who are in the hotel management business. We pride ourselves in catering to all needs of our customers, taking their feedback seriously.
The number of students who visit has increased over the years. The main reason behind this is that we provide good, hygienic food at a low cost.
It’s the students who are the ‘daily’ visitors, primary reasons being time and mess menu. They might not have had breakfast or wouldn’t have liked what the mess served that day. We also serve the professors and other staff their daily tea and coffee.”
3. Charles and Robin Anna
Charles and Robin Anna, the irreplaceable AV support crew, the silent protectors and watchful guardians of the A Halls, Barn and EEE Audi.
“I started my career as a motor mechanic. I worked with electronics for 15 years in Trichy. I came to this campus around 2009, while Charles Anna came here during 2013. From 2009-2012 I worked part-time, being in-charge of EEE Audi and Barn Hall only, After 2013 I became a full time employee and took care of everything.
Going full-time meant that I had many responsibilities – I saw that I had to work with a family of brothers and sisters instead of by myself. Them treating me as their “Anna” encouraged me to work better.
We are popular with the students here because we take it upon ourselves to return lost belongings back – we call up the necessary people and tell them that we’ve found what maybe theirs or their friends’.
Whatever fest(Festember,Pragyan or Nittfest) that I work with, ensures that I am a part of their team. I find it praiseworthy that you guys consider this old man important enough to let me in on the proceedings of all your events. I see it as a share mutual respect on each of our parts – that you guys respond to my “Dei”s is in itself a big thing.
I always observe that your seniors have always nurtured their juniors. But I get to know the person who is going to be handling all the events next year just when they come here to book the halls – at which point I’ll have to give them some “tips” to make sure that they run everything smoothly. This happens every fest where the seniors just give up their responsibilities once the fest is over. It’s an improvement I’d like to see. Seniors should hand over the reins along with passing such crucial knowledge to their juniors. The juniors otherwise find it difficult to book the halls and run their events.
I’d like to see more advancement in technology with regards to all forthcoming fests as all of you are pursuing engineering.”
Robin Anna about Charles Anna:
“Charles anna is surely the more responsible one. He is presently on leave, dealing with personal problems. He is very happy when in the midst of students. He was a pillar of support when my wife passed away giving birth to our daughter. It was then that he said that he’d take care of all my responsibilities here. Charles anna is a cardiac patient, so I was a little hesitant in handing over so many responsibilities at first.
We affectionately call him Charles “mama”. His family lives in Trichy”.
4. Opal Bakery Akka
Ms.Meena AKA Angel bakery akka, the bubbly yet serene bakery vendor at Opal who somehow manages the never ending rush without a fret.
“Angel Bakery is based in Trichy and this is my brother’s outlet at Opal. I came here last year to take care of this branch for him. I am currently pursuing BA.Tamil Literature in Annamalai University through Correspondence. I used to work as a school teacher previously and I’ve undergone teacher training.
The girls are really nice to us here and our sales has been good. I try to remain calm even during the rush hours. I usually greet everyone with a smile and I enjoy interacting with the students. Within three months of my joining I was able to pick up the English language as most girls interact with me in English. In my free time I like reading books.
Being a college student myself, I’m simply amazed by the vast campus. I enjoy being in the campus and I wish to pursue my higher studies in a big university such as this one.
My ambition is to become a teacher. Once I finish my Degree, I’d like to start teaching in schools and probably pursue my Masters later on.”
5. Opal Laundry Akka
Mrs. Jayalakshmi aka Laundry Akka is someone most Opalites identify with. Ever smiling and always willing to help us out with all our eleventh hour laundry problems, she is one of the most affable shopkeepers at Opal.
“I’ve been here at Vinayaga Dry Cleaners for the past one and a half years. My husband was initially running the shop here, but I’ve taken over since men aren’t allowed inside Opal.
Every morning we both wash all the clothes and my husband drops me off at the hostel. I live at Ayyempetai and we had another laundry shop at Kattur until we shifted to NIT.
Although I used to assist my husband previously, I have never run a shop on my own until I came here. This is a new experience for me and it is quite liberating to work outside my house.
My main priority is to deliver the clothes on time. We usually take one day to return the clothes after washing and ironing them. The students here are wonderful and the institute is really supportive to small scale shopkeepers like us. I hope to keep working here and expand my shop to other locations as well.”
6. Opal Xerox Akka
Ms. Kavitha AKA Opal Xerox Akka is a savior to all Opalites who want to take prints at the last minute. She effortlessly manages the never-ending crowd at Opal’s Thozhar Xerox. Probably the most helpful retailer, she even shares her movie collection with the girls.
“I used to own another Xerox shop near Thuvakudi until I shifted to NITT a year back. I travel around 3km from Ayyempetai to get here. When we set up the shop at Opal, I was pursuing my BSc in Mathematics through correspondence. I completed my course a few months back. I’ve also undergone training courses in Nursing and healthcare.
Although we’re happy to provide services to NIT, the profits have not been great for us. We have requested the institute to provide a false ceiling to the shop. Excess heat has damaged most of our equipment this summer.
I’ve tried to expand sales by selling stationery items apart from the regular printing and Xerox services. In the future I hope to sell more items. Students have also requested for A3 colour prints. We’re unable to procure the equipment now as it is very costly. We hope to increase sales in the coming years and cater to all the needs of the students.”
7. Mr.S.Venkatesan – vendor at Vinayagar Tea Stall
“I currently live in Thuvakudi, but before that I’ve lived in a few different places. I studied till my 10th standard in a Thiruverumbur government school. After that, I completed a course at the ITI (Industrial Training Institute) in Thiruverumbur and got a job as a steel fabrication fitter. I worked in the steel industry in Thuvakudi for 15 years. Then I worked as a contractor for another 5 years. In 1999, I got a job as a steel fabrication foreman in Dubai. I worked there for another 8 years. Afterwards I got a job in East Africa as a supervisor of steel fabrication.
Finally. I returned to Trichy, bought 4 acres of land in Singampatti and started a steel fabrication plant – it only ran for about a year or so. We were vendors for BHEL back then. Business was bad for us, so much so even BHEL didn’t have job offers. The main reason was the Congress government. So my company is in a hibernation period – once the government starts creating more jobs, I expect to return to my plant.
I turned to the hotel business in 2012, by starting a small tea shop and subsequently a mess. Then, in 2015, I noticed a classified ad stating there was a need for tea stalls here at NITT. A student residing in BHEL helped me out in filling the necessary tender forms – and so here I am. My stall is open during the day also – to cater to many parched throats.
I also own two vehicles (a Manza and a Xylo) which I give out for rent. These form my current sources of income.
As far as I’m concerned I have no qualms with the student community. Also, I have no problem in conversing with anyone in their own language. Some students have even told me that they come here instead of the Nescafe at Garnet just because of the way I’d beckon to them and others to have a drink here.”
8. Mr.Vignesh – Vendor at Sri Krishna Juice Stall in SC
“My family originally hailed from Namakkal, but we live in Valvanthankottai now. Our stall has been in the shopping complex for around 10 years. Back then my mother was taking care of the business while I was studying B.E., Mechanical Engineering at Jairam College, Thuraiyur. I’m now in my second year of MBA (Correspondence) studying Marketing. Only recently now I’ve taken charge here, full-time. I still credit all the experiences I’ve gained over the years to my mother.
10 years back, we had only 6 fruit drinks available – some of which like mango were seasonal. But over the years, we brought in many more variety of fruits, throughout the year too. Our source is the Trichy market near Chatram. I buy all the fruits and ice early in the morning and transport it here. We don’t face a lot of problems here, mainly because we employ only girls to help us out. They work sincerely and don’t get angry often.
Satisfying students here has been easy as opposed to resorting to “marketing gimmicks”. We see them as our extended family. In my opinion 99% of the college’s students are honest and good-natured. They are sincere and hardworking, doing a wonderful job of organising events as big as Festember or Pragyan, independently. The way they manage and organize things in the future will truly be professional. Teams in such fests will have various kinds of people working – and their leader must be talented in order to make it happen. Such fests surely build the student’s’ skill set.
My whole family is in the “business” line of things. I’d like to do the same. I plan to have a similar business of my own – running juice stalls, stores and the like. It’s what I’m good at!”
These are just nine of the many people we see in campus every single day. They help us out in lots of different ways, but most of us just walk past them without taking a moment to think of their perspective as Humans of NITT.
Team Feeds tried to get an insight on the lives of these unsung heroes of our college, who add on to the living standard of the student community. These people provide essential services to us and sometimes even go out of their way to help us out.
We would like to thank all such “humans” of our campus who have been here all along and supported us through our four years of college.
Now, having read their story, it’s time for us to retrospect on the diverse populace of our campus.