Friday, February 10, 2012

For The Graduating Class of 2006

Good afternoon ladies, gentlemen, professors, fellow interns, med students, little brothers & sisters, people who wandered in wondering what’s going on and importantly, the parents who are already screening the room for potential in-laws. My own journey with Nair started off rather funnily outside the CET counselling center when I was frantically asking people if Topiwala National Medical College was in fact Nair, because I had just filled that in the form and had no idea where I was heading! Strange how a place whose name I wasn’t sure of would become this important to me.

It’s customary for the Valedictorian to give the graduating speech, but it’s far too long that we’ve been swooning over the numero unos in this class. We only have one Nikshita, one Shruti, one Tazeen and hell, a few Ankitas for extra measure. But, it’s about time to speak up for the rest of us.

For far too long have we told people we’re pursuing medicine, only for the next question to be, “Beta, heart surgeon kabhi banega?”. Way too many people ask where we’re heading for residency, way too many seniors ask for our final year marks. Look here, being part of a crowd is a full time commitment. We may be average, but we try extra hard to stay that way! Why can’t we just take this moment to celebrate average awesomeness?

Average is the medical student who watched way too much House and Grey’s Anatomy before coming into medicine. Awesome was their reaction when they realized not all doctors are as good looking as the ones on TV!

Average is the student who knew exactly who Peter Roberts was. Awesome is not knowing who his examiners are.

Average was the student who got pulled up for low attendance in second year. Awesome were the parents who said, “Koi nahi beta, isi bahaane doosre parents se mulaqaat ho gayi”

Average is the resident standing behind the examiner who’s frantically gesturing answers in the vivas, awesome is the professor who notices but doesn’t look around.

Average are the parents who send amazing food with their kids back to college, awesome is how they always remember their kids have friends who need a little fattening up too.

Average is knowing that other colleges have campuses, while Nair has a compound. Awesome is the fact we have the one thing that no other med school has... Speech Therapy!

Average is the parent who expects his child to make them proud. Awesome is the student who fulfils their wishes and then goes the extra mile.

Average is knowing that you can’t walk through life on the Dr. Title before your name alone. Awesome is doing something that makes people add the Sahab at the end of it.

Average is knowing that life’s a struggle that you’re willing to face; knowing that in life, being just booksmart or streetsmart alone doesn’t cut it anymore, you need to own the space around you. Average is fighting for that very space you crave. Awesome is not letting anything stop you from being a part of a great tradition of medicine, where knowledge, like the proverbial torch, is always passed on. Extraordinary is that person who teaches without expecting anything in return but time and patience. You teach because you wish to be taught.

For the past five years, Nair has defined awesome. Its been way too intimate a part of our lives to serve as a stepping stone. It’s much much more than that! We don’t spend our days backbiting about other colleges. We’re proud, we’re not delusional like the rest! Let’s hold on to that quiet confidence. The average Nairite isn’t that uber-competitive nerdy medical student most others in the city are. Look back at all the years here and you’ll find that the first few months were probably just as exciting as the next few years: meeting terrific people, meeting first girlfriends, often our only girlfriends, first gut-wrenching exam failure, second gut-wrenching exam failure, third failure to finally realizing that you hate the anatomy part-exams! 

From learning how to dress up for wards, to bunking early morning lectures with shocking regularity, from befriending all the nurses, to idealizing that favorite professor you want to emulate one day, right down to his beard, from doing research projects to having movie marathons at PVR, friends we’ve made to those we’ve sadly lost. Let’s not have to remind ourselves that every little experience, every person we’ve met, went a long way in shaping us into what we are today.

It’s up to us to realize that us graduating hasn’t been a solo effort. Let’s thank our families, our professors, thank the staff, thank everyone who’s been any sort of support over these past years, people who pushed us towards medicine and those who pulled us through.

I don’t intend on ending with a “let’s go forth and conquer the world routine”. Sounds way too average! I’d rather quote Satchel Paige, “No man can avoid being born average, that doesn’t mean he’s got to be common”. Wish you all a great night ahead.

Special thanks to Aayushi for lending me her ear and words amid all the chaos that day.