Two months back, a lazy afternoon class and I was almost dozing off. The faint voice of our class-rep announcing about a conference in Pune woke me up, I caught the date to be in September. September? Just a month before the sessionals? I knew I would have tons to study then, so I discarded the idea of attending it and went back to sleep. Few weeks later, one of my friends came to me and asked about going for a “Symposium” for Illuminati 2014 at AFMC Pune. And slowly, I saw the steam building up. Many people from our batch started discussing about attending the event. Intrigued I looked it up on Facebook and Google. The official Illuminati site said that the event was from 13th to 15th September, and there would be a keynote speech by Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam (Former President of India). That’s all it took for me to say “yes”!
After weeks of oscillating between excitement and anxiety, the night of 11th September we set out on our journey to Pune. The train journey to Panvel and then the road-trip from Mumbai to Pune in a Travera was an experience in itself. With all the late night gossiping and cracking stupid jokes, we finished a day’s long journey and didn’t even realize how time flew.
12th night we reached the Armed Forces Medical College campus and went in with our mouths gaping wide open. We were star-struck by the huge campus and the lush greenery all around. As we entered, we had to register at the front desk. And very efficiently we were given our Delegate Identity cards and other passes and were allotted rooms. We were a little apprehensive about the accommodation, but all our doubts were for nothing. The hostel where we stayed in was newly built and furnished; we got good rooms and each room even had its own balcony! And throughout the whole day, at least 2 Medical Cadets were always present in the hostel for us in case we needed anything. Every little thing was taken care of and properly planned by the Student’s Scientific Society and all the volunteers. Despite having worked since weeks and hardly catching any sleep, all the students involved never ceased to answer our queries with a smile and did it ever so respectfully. Now that’s when you know how exactly India’s finest and bravest youth is. Intelligent. Responsible. Respectful.
On 13th we presented our Symposium which sadly didn’t make it to the finals but the judges appreciated our efforts. Little crestfallen after that, we decided to call it a night. But then somehow we ended up having dinner with some AFMCites.We talked to them about life in AFMC and had amazing food which made us oblivious to everything else.
On 14th, we attended the Guest lectures held in Dhanvantri Auditorium by esteemed Dr.Vishwamohan Katoch, Director General, ICMR and Dr.Harsha Gowda, Ph.D Proteomics, Institute of Bioinformatics Bangalore/John Hopkins University Baltimore, U.K. Dr.Katoch talked to us about how research is important at an undergraduate level and inspired us to never give up and keep doing more projects even if some of them got rejected. Dr.Gowda gave a presentation on his research on proteome, which was actually a high-funda topic, but he made it quite lucid and easy to for us to understand.
Following it was the Symposium finals where the 5 teams selected out of the many had to fight it out in front of a huge audience and judges. One after the other, each team was presenting today’s medically relevant topics in a way never seen before. Visual effects, audio, speech, drama you name it! The judges had quite a hard time picking the best out of the best.The same evening was the day’s most fun events, the banquet dinner followed by the Socials. We got all dressed up for the night and had a sumptuous banquet at the AFMC Cadet’s Mess. Then we danced on for two whole hours at the Socials, purely hooked on to the DJ’s tunes and the special Punjabi beats. Everyone, didn’t matter which college, just got together and had a great time.
15th morning, we were barely able to walk after last night’s dancing; we winced at each step. But it was the day we were looking forward to the most, Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam was to give his keynote speech today. Breakfast or no breakfast, everyone got up early and stood in line to get into the auditorium for his speech. At 11 am, a bell was rung, signaling Dr.Kalam’s arrival. We all stood up and despite there being so many people in the room, there was pin-drop silence. And then I saw him walking in, smiling ever so sweetly and waving at all of us as he went on to the dias. He was asked to unveil the magazine “Impulse” which was a result of a year’s hard work of the Student’s Scientific Society, AFMC.He shared some of his experiences with doctors and spoke to us about how both medical and engineering fields can be amalgamated to work together. It would not only give medical science another point of view but will also help create more efficient medical equipments. At the end he made us pledge to respect and smile at all our patients, and to never give them any “diagnostic pain”.
Rest of the day’s events included Paper Presentation, Debate and Quiz finals. Medical students from various parts of the country came and presented their papers, their research topics were so innovative and high-end , that sometimes even the judges were rendered speechless. The debate was a massive battle of words and wisdom, with each finalist outsmarting the other at interjections. The final event was the Quiz on Internal Medicine where again, not only the finalist teams but the audience also answered well, sometimes even before the whole question was read out!
With the valedictory function, sadly, Illuminati came to an end. And with heavy hearts we slowly started packing our bags for our trip back to Mangalore. Before leaving, we decided to go one last time to the café at AFMC, where we used to practically just hang out and drink the delicious cold-coffee when we got breaks. Finishing up that last cup of cold-coffee, we resolved that this can’t be the last time we walked on this beautiful campus! This couldn’t be the last time we walked past the huge Parade Ground. I promised to myself, I will be back next year.
For now we are back, in Mangalore, if nothing we have a lot of wonderful memories and happy moments in our hearts as we fondly miss Pune. And not to forget how Illuminati ignited the fire within us to search for answers and study with more sincerity and devotion.Next time you have a chance to go to a conference , don’t let it go. Hold on to it and make the most of it, gift yourself the pleasure of getting inspired!
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