THE BIOLOGY OLYMPIAD ORIENTATION-CUM-SELECTION CAMP, HBCSE, MUMBAI, 4TH-11TH JUNE_____
June the 1st……..AIIMS admission test, went outta home with dad in early morn and gave the exam in KendriyaVid. Fort William, Kolkata. The question was absolutely HOWLER (Please consult Harry Potter ! )……exam went okay. After coming out, dad told of my +2 boards result, which was to be out today. Bengali, English, and Physics murdered…… expected more.
Anyway, in evening, aboard the Mumbai mail with dad……………
June 3rd.……My first breath in the scintillating city called Mumbai…..went Nerul, freshened up in a ‘family friend’ Sukumar Nandi’s place. Then by car to HBCSE in afternoon. Checked in the Mandakini 63 room of BARC hostel just beside. Roommates Vivek and Surojit, a fellow bong joined. Tamoghna, ‘representing WB’ with me, was in 26 of same bldg.
June 4th…….Here I go, amigo ! Vivek in ‘masti’ mood already. We were registered, schedules and bags and etc. (Oh yeah, and Olympiad t-shirts and caps, nice things 2 show off to muggles, eh ?) handed out, and ‘lessons’ started. Everyday, first sessions were problem solvings, then discussions, mostly by our ‘favorite’, Kale Sir the great. Then lunch (Food’s quite good, but only everything veg !, and the soup they were giving as appetizer was really yucky.). Today, after lunch, we had our ‘LAB ORIENTATION’. Essentially was to ‘teach’ us kings of theory the basics of lab works ( how miserable !). Exhausted after 3 hours, many dragged till 4 or even more I gess. We did Chalk chromatography, paper chromatos, sectioned earthworm, handled crabs……….New roommate Vineet joined us from today….. a damn good bloke, 1st in manipal !!!
June 5th…….Lab exam in Plant sciences,…how’s dat ? there was sectioning of 5 root/stem samples (which I did horribly in school, but managed somehow here), then identifying leaf samples by dichotomous keys, Thin-Layer Chromatography, Doing floral diags of given flowers and the memorable one ( for me)….test for plant photosyn. We had to grind leaves and then filter by a round Filter paper into a test-tube, and what I did was filter through the thin tissue paper given, and as result, dint get a color change. Told Chiku maam( Rekha Vartak, the head of the whole program), not of what I did, but what happened. She shrugged (possibly guessing I did something wrong !!). After exams, another thing..… the PMT results, I am 363, though expcted more. Tamoghna 196. Three in top 10 (vineet 9), vivek 49……..what will happen to me on 11th ?
June 6th……..Animal Sciences lab exam. The tasks were to identify and classify ten animal samples, taking out appendages of shrimp and pointing functions, doing blood smear and comparing, observing feeding behavior in paramecia, and a marathon task— taking cuticle and nephridia of earthworm on slide, observe and show to observer, point 3 things in earthy’s body (couldn’t do this one, dint study ‘bout it b4 )……and what next, from given samples of alimentary canal, guessing what functions do these parts do ?! I would’ve knocked out if I got hold of the Q-setter then……..Again exhausted after a messy 3 hrs.
We were supposed to study after the exams, but I (and many of us) found myself repeatedly dozing off in library, and after coming home( that is the Mandakini 63 ), all four had a solid two-hour gossip session.
June 7th………My best exam till now. Biochem test, ……identifying carbohydrate samples, absorbance studies of glucose oxidase enzyme and graph plotting (got a nice curvy curve), restriction site problem and blood smear (again !)
Tamoghna very serious ……. ‘SRK in chak de’ type. He did a silly mistake yesterday and was furious.
June 8th………No exam, Vartak gave lecture on Biostats and told bits of formulae for tomorrow’s genetics exam…. basically it was mugging up, many were bored, and in evening in library, I was enjoying my ‘best’ time, just a stat-know-it-all to all the il-math-erate would-be docs (pardon me, but they behaved so !!), while myself was confused ‘bout what to read for tomorrow.
June 9th………A very very mediocre exam, was blown away by the first 2 things,– Pea seed genotype determination (and statistical analysis of data), and detecting mutant bacteria cultures. Guessed the pea-leaf problem; agar-plate culture observation, and restriction study was OK, what went well were pedigree analysis (PKU, reagent/coloration etc. ), and the onion-tip mitosis problem.
After exams, came home to take rest, but found myself playing cards with vivek and naman. Studied in Library a bit in evening.
June 10th…….. The big bro, theory exam (which brought us here !) A 4 hr exam, 2 papers, no energy left after 1 pm, the end of exam. Did okay, now can breathe easy. Today also did the graph problem well ( at least I reckon, as I judge by the shape of graph (!),and got a beautiful sigmoid exponential curve. )
So, all over. Nothing to do, went Trombay with father in afternoon. In evening, read a ‘feluda’ detective story, the eng translation of ‘badshahi angti’ (the royal ring), which was half-finished from yesterday evening !! Tamoghna still reading, today a Sigmund Freud book. He doesn’t seem to be willing to leave HBCSE this early!
June 11th…….. At last, got into the top 20, not in top 4. Had a wild hope, but did lose focus, dint deserve, otherwise I believe I could do it. Kalyani got most of the killings, best in theory exam, a place in top 4, and top 20 prize. Aparna was best in pracs, and others in top 3 were two Anurags (Chahal, and Shahi uncle(!)), and chubby Devanshu. Surojit predicted him, and vineet, kaustav, ritika. I thought it would be nishant, vineet, tamoghna (though wishing deep inside heart may it be me !), and ritika.
Now went out to see the city, with dad. Surojit and vivek left, vineet left yesterday.
Saw the Siddhivinayak (the bachchans made it more famous!), mahalaxmi, chowpatty beach, and changed 3 trains amid the famous mumbaiya rush to mankhurd late, after 9. Was lucky to get a dinner at the canteen.
June 12th…….. Had our train in night. Checked out with dad in morning, went VT, kept luggage in cloak-room, and set foot outside. First gateway of India, then taraporewala aquarium and then the big thing I was waiting,….a visit to TIFR, at Colaba. Have a namesake there (or rather HE has a namesake in me ), a scientist in the dept. of Astrophysics. Met Subha da on net September last yr, when he was in Canada, joined TIFR this yr January. We three had a hearty chat over and long after lunch……he’s from kolkata, ‘dumdum-er chhele’………Then return to VT by bus, and train in night. Oh yes, and meanwhile, had loads of juices and sherbets,—mango, pineapple, rosemilk, kala-khatta, nimbu paani………dint have the pav-bhaaji though. Both me and father agreed that eating this ‘faltoo’ thing is sheer waste of money.