Winning Entry - Your College Mixtape
~ By Shristi Singh, 22MA10056
Hi, I am Shristi Singh. Currently starting my second year at KGP, studying in the Mathematics department. You might not know me that well, but after this write-up and playlist, you will. How I look at this playlist is that it is a tribute and celebration of particular moments in time that I lived through and celebrate now.
Track 1: "You’re on Your Own, Kid" by Taylor Swift
This song was practically my anthem when I first came into KGP. Let me share a little secret—I'm a die-hard Taylor Swift fan. What I adore most about her is how wonderfully she captures the complexity of human emotions and relationships. This song, in particular, talks about Taylor's journey, where she had to say goodbye to cherished bits of her past—be it her high school crush, her hometown, or even her reputation—to chase her dreams. In those moments of walking on a new path, she feels like a lone warrior working toward her aspirations. She nudges us to appreciate each moment because even in the goodbye, there's growth. This tune was like a comforting friend, especially for someone stepping away from her home for the first time. It reminded me, "Everything you lose is a step you take" and “There were pages turned with the bridges burnt.” This new chapter was my blank canvas to explore and embrace the countless possibilities that awaited beyond the comfort of home.
Track 2: “Dandelions” by Ruth B
Even though the lyrics of this song don't exactly mirror my life, the song itself holds a special place. This track and several others acted as a bridge with people who eventually became my closest friends. We would play several songs like this while hanging out together for the first time at the Nalanda Nescafe, exploring the vast KGP campus, and trying out foods at night canteens.
Track 3: “Lungi Dance” by Yo Yo Honey Singh
Before you raise your eyebrows, wondering what a song like Lungi Dance is doing here, I can explain. This song reminds me of a fateful Friday, after almost 3 weeks of attending classes. We were all ready to wind down. So, girls from a few rooms gathered in our room and we played multiple rounds of Uno, accompanied with snacks, music and jokes. After we were done with Uno, everyone went to their room and us roommates suddenly started dancing to this song. This remains one of my fondest memories with my roomies.
Track 4: “Love Story” by Taylor Swift
Such a classic, this song, right? After being utterly bored in classes at Nalanda, some of us girls came up with creative ways to stay awake. They included writing lyrics of songs like these in our notebooks. With one friend, we blasted this song on full volume while returning to SNVH and we were singing the lyrics to this at the top of our voices. Fair to say, that we got a few (okay, more than a few) stares from the passersby. But, was it worth it? Obviously! I loved this song so much, that around a week or two before midsems, on a Sunday afternoon, a friend recorded me singing this song with full passion and me enacting every lyric. Yes, I went down knee for the lyrics “He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring”! This college finally started to feel mine and not the college I associated with the several vlogs of KGPians and Tharun videos.
Track 5: “Gul” by Anuv Jain
As midsems crept closer, library trips became the new normal. To wind down, a friend and I walked to the library. At the time we were obsessed with this song and we were playing this song on loop. My friend asked me what this song meant, and what followed was one of the first conversations that wasn’t surface-level. I decoded the song to her, line by line. We talked about the subject of the song who is trying to accept the ending of a relationship in which she gave her all, only to not receive heartbreak at the end and how she is trying to find herself again. Needless to say, we both saw ourselves in that song. We later talked about our pasts, regarding some failed friendships which ended due to their one-sided nature.
Track 6: “Begin Again” by Taylor Swift
Midsems are now over and we definitely need to wind down. To say midsems were a new experience is an understatement. The night midsems ended, the girls of my wing gather and dance to Bollywood songs till 2 am. Two special girls in my wing grew to be my lifeline at KGP. Our trio was inseparable. They were the ones I was giving treats to after being selected for 2 societies, the girls with whom I survived midsems, the girls that took care of me when I was sick, the girls who would listen to my rants about my day. The week after midsems, we watched iconic movies and shows like Qala and Wednesday till late in the night, and woke up together around noon on a bed together. I felt like I finally had people I could rely on and I was starting to undo some of my cynical beliefs on human relations which had formed due to some old friendships gone wrong. I was finally giving a chance for selective people to enter my life after a long time. I allowed myself to be vulnerable before others and my walls came down. After a long time, I wasn't afraid to show that I was flawed. I allowed myself to believe it when they said “If we get the same halls next year, we will be roomies” and “You are my number one priority in KGP”.
Track 7: “Besharam Rang” by Shilpa Rao
Kshitij is here! Students from all over India are here to visit our beautifully decorated campus. The artist performing is Shilpa Rao, and this is my first concert in 5 years. Obviously, I have to prepare! So what do I do? The only songs I listen to are by Shilpa Rao now. I memorize her lyrics more than I ever memorized study materials. And, boy was it worth it! Imagine getting to witness both Ashneer Grover and Shilpa Rao on the same day! All the videos I shot that day of the concert are not to be posted anywhere, because Shilpa Rao isn't audible anywhere. All I hear is a girl screaming lyrics at the top of her voice. I wonder who that girl is ;)
Track 8: “Maan Meri Jaan” by King
I will be honest here, I didn't even know King existed before Spring Fest announced him as a performer. So I did some superficial research on him and heard only his top two. The rest of my energy was focused on preparing for Sunidhi Chauhan's concert, and yeah sometimes preparing for endsems too. I reluctantly went to his concert, ready to not know a single lyric. And I was right. In the middle of the concert, I had to sit down on the ground, because of how disappointing it was turning out to be. Most of the lyrics, that I could make out, revolved around the objectification and sexualization of women. To me, only the last two songs “Maan Meri Jaan” and “Tu Aake Dekh Le” actually felt fun.
Track 9: “The Best Day” By Taylor Swift
Amidst the Spring fest, came one of my best days. Not because of Sunidhi, even though that was pretty epic too. But because my dad could come to visit KGP during a time when the campus was as active as ever. It was like two things that shouldn't go together, but somehow it did. That day ended with lots of quirky memories and stories that never fail to bring a smile to everyone I tell it to. Whether it be me and dad witnessing Pravah’s nukkad on porn addiction or it being spotting endless teenage lovebirds doing very “colourful” things. I felt blessed to spend a day with my dad after a long time. The things that I had been taking for granted just 6 months ago, turned out to be the things I missed most. Simple things like sharing a meal with my father, and strolling with him at night among many other day-to-day activities. Countless nights I have spent simply crying to this song, reminiscing fond memories of my childhood.
Track 10: “Dharkhast” by Sunidhi Chauhan
Sunidhi Chauhan is finally in KGP! I had been overjoyed ever since she was set to perform in Spring Fest. We pushed Taylor Swift to the side for a while, and let Sunidhi rule my Spotify account and by extension my heart. You would assume that I would have gone early to her concert. But no. I applied my very smart brain and said we would go only once the opening singer was done with their performance. Turns out there was no opening singer for Miss Sunidhi Chauhan. I remember she was in the midst of singing this song when we were parking our cycles. Me and a friend held hands and just ran towards the concert venue, all while loudly singing along with Sunidhi. But truly, younger Shristi wouldn't believe it if I told her I went to a Sunidhi Chauhan concert and she sang so many of “my” songs. To explain just how much I enjoyed this concert, let me just say, I was sick with fever and sore throat the subsequent week. And just 2 weeks later, were supposed to be our endsems. we practically gambled our health and academic standing for that one unforgettable night. And guess what? I'd do it all over again if given the chance.
Track 11: “Aasman ko Chukkar Dekha”
Endsems came. Ended me. Then left. And now, I had to leave KGP. I was elated to be home. Eat food made by my mom. Play with my younger brother. Hangout with my old friends. But, somehow, I wasn't complete without spending my nights meeting with with my kgp friends. This is a song I associated with one of my most special friends after we had a conversation for an hour about cartoon songs and she claimed that this song was one of her favourites. It's a song that perfectly mirrors her zest and her playful spirit. I played it when I wanted to look back on a wholesome semester we had spent together
Track 12: “Somewhere Only We Know” by Rhianne
I associate this song with reminiscing about the moments that you have lived through. Those moments could be as subtle as the “branches of a fallen tree”. Here's what the situation was. That semester break was the last 2 weeks I would be spending in Vadodara, the city that gave me comfort for the past 4 years. The most defining 4 years of my life. The place where I found my interest lies. The place which gave me friends that I am still in touch with. The place where I lived, laughed, grew. So in those 2 weeks, I tried to visit all the people and places that meant the most to me. I tried to absorb every detail of my room, the place where I had fought many battles with myself. Some, I had emerged victorious. Some taught me lessons that have shaped me as a person today. I met my closest friends and hugged them goodbye and tried my best not to stain that moment with my tears. I met my coaching teachers, the ones who lifted my spirits when I was at my lowest during my JEE preparations. It is due to their unwavering support, that I can now finally call myself an IITian. I went to my school, and oh the nostalgia! Looking at those tiny kids preparing for an upcoming event brought back so many memories of the days which were carefree. Meeting my school teachers and telling them that I am now in IIT Kharagpur, studying the course of Mathematics and Computing, and seeing their chests puff up with pride was one of the best things I had witnessed. As I onboarded my train back to KGP, I could not help but shed a tear or two in honour of that beautiful city, where I saw many ups and downs.
Track 13: “Happier” by Ed Sheeran
The new semester had begun, and boy was this as chaotic as ever. With work of some societies being the most stressful ever, some personal health issues that had crept up as well as some problems in my personal relations. This song doesn't represent my perspective. Instead, it represents the perspective of a guy in my life and what I imagine he felt after we drifted apart due to events that had occurred in that timeline. This period was one of the darkest here in kgp. And I felt I was breaking in every aspect of my life, be it health, work or relationships. And to make it all worse, midsems were looming around. However, even in these moments, I had people who tried to make me feel people. They were people I never expected to be there for me. Those guys still have a soft corner in my heart and I will always be grateful for the grace they extended out for me when it was so clear that I was shattering.
Track 14: “New Friends” by Jordana Bryant
While it is difficult for me to talk about this, it is indeed an important part of my journey here. The thing is, sometimes, people who you had imagined spending your college years with, seem to drift away due to new and different priorities. The dynamics of your friendships ultimately change and somehow you find yourself spending less and less time with your old friends. And finally, someone ends up replacing you. Although it is sad, ultimately there is nothing you can do if someone doesn't want to take out time for you anymore. The only thing you can do is accept it and try to not take it personally when all ur mind does is replay wholesome moments where there were promises of never leaving each other, becoming roommates if we end up in the same hall. Yet here I am, writing this while being in the same hall as those friends I considered my lifeline at kgp but not sharing the same room.
Track 15: “Long Live” by Taylor Swift
It would only be fair to end this playlist with a Taylor Swift song. And this song is an ode to us. All the “mountains we moved” and how we proved our cynics to be wrong. We hope to leave behind a legacy, and the future remembers us for our heroic deeds. In fact, the only reason I participated in this competition, amidst all the things I have to do at the moment, is because this mixtape is my personal legacy and story. It is to immortalize the journey so far at KGP. It is to honour the experiences I have lived through, whether they are positive or negative. Thank you for reading this far. Thank you for this opportunity. Hope I fulfilled my promise, that after reading this article, you would know me better.