On a make-shift stage in a dark garden inside the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) campus in Powai, a skinny engineering student looks sheepish as his friends describe his failed attempt at going on a blind date. There’s raucous laughter all around as his girlfriend, clad in her fanciest dress, sits next to him, bemused.
For IITians, the last two weeks have been filled with one of the institute’s most awaited rituals. A rite-of-passage of sorts, the customary session called a Valfy (short for valedictory function) is the farewell routine for final year students. Valfies are scheduled for each hostelite, organised by friends and attended by wing-mates, juniors, even enemies.
“When we were juniors, going to a senior’s Valfy was exciting, because it was a way to hear secret stories about him,” said Mukul Gupta, a fourth year student, who had his last week. “Friends get together, pull out the most embarrassing stories and ask the most awkward questions. God forbid, if he has a girlfriend, she has to sit next to him and endure the whole session.”
Gone are the days when college farewells were about inspiring speeches, cold samosas and cheesy 90’s Indipop songs about friendship. College students are now organising memorable, but distinctly goofy farewells.
At St Xavier’s College, Dhobi Talao, second-year literature students dared their “snobbish”, “elitist” seniors to spend their farewell party shrouded in the persona of a Kardashian sister, complete with exaggerated drawls and eyelash-batting. The students, most often ensconced in TS Eliot and Shakespeare, were forced instead, to research the tabloid-frequenting American starlets. “Our juniors thought they would do something different, and it turned out to be far more entertaining than the usual farewell,” said Adhitya Dhanapal, a third year student.
And if good-natured ribbing isn’t enough, students of RA Podar College, Matunga, made sure they had proof of an embarrassing story that could be passed around and kept for posterity. In a spoof award ceremony, juniors awarded, and proudly displayed, ‘The Photo of the Year’ – the most comical facebook photo uploaded by a senior all year. “The farewell is the perfect time for juniors to rag and mimic their seniors,” said Bhavi Desai, a third year student.