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At the gates of glory

Reportage: Bijoy Venugopal. Photograph: S K Kotian

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

The line from Hotel California applies equally to those who graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay. While you can take an engineer out of IIT, there’s no taking IIT out of an engineer.

Ask Anish Das Sarma. His is not a face that earns immediate recognition on the sprawling, verdant campus in the Mumbai suburb of Powai where thousands of India’s most brilliant minds fan their sparks of intellect into a blaze of progress. At first glance the fourth-year student of computer science appears shy and soft-spoken, perhaps quite gauche. But behind his reticence is a ready wit.

Walk with him into Hostel 3, and the hellos start to pipe up -- warm, friendly, somewhat admiring. Despite the murky, overcast weather, faces brighten to acknowledge a winner. The lanky 21 year old, who completed his course with a cumulative point average of 9.8 out of 10, is the recipient of the Shankar Dayal Sharma Gold Medal for general proficiency and excellence in sports and extracurricular activities. Anish, who plays the tabla and keyboard for the hostel music group, also plays table tennis and chess.

“It’s really sad to leave after four years,” says Anish, who received his degree at the institute’s 42nd Convocation held on August 6 in Mumbai. Bright prospects await him at Stanford, where will do research for his doctoral thesis in theoretical computer science.

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