The Tagore open air theatre at IIT Kharagpur was completely full as 3500 IITians turned up to listen to their alumnus, Google CEO Sundar Pichai. For Pichai, it was an emotional homecoming, his first visit to his alma mater since he graduated from IIT Kharagpur in 1993. “The last time I was here, I was leaving for the railway station to catch my train. It was a sad journey leaving the institute. I have not been back since,” Pichai said.
Twenty three years later, Pichai, now one of the most noted of IITians, addressed a gathering of students from different departments, who had gathered to listen to him since the morning, all wearing black Google baseball caps which they had earlier been given.
“When I first came to Kharagpur, i didn’t know any Hindi as i had just arrived from Chennai. But over the weeks I picked up a spattering of the language, confident enough to go to the Mess and order food.
So I went and called out to the server ? ‘Abey Saaley’ ? I didn’t know what it meant but assumed that it was a common greeting because that’s how everyone around me would greet each other. The mess guys were so angry that they shut down the Mess for a while,” he said amid roars of laughter.
Pichai spoke about his days at the Institute and said that he would bunk classes like anyone else. “It is a sort of rite of passage in college,” he said adding, “But i also worked very hard.”