Kapil Wattamar

Now we have one final Senior Wisdom to close out the Class of 2013.  We love you all and wish you all best!

Name, Hometown, School: kapwatt. As true as it is that I was born and raised in Queens, I can’t deny that I’m an NJ’er at heart. If browntown were a real word, it would mean my hometown, Edison, NJ. And SEAS BME all the way.

Claim to fame? Co-Coordinator of the Hindu Students Organization (HSO). CEO of the Columbia Undergraduate Science Journal (CUSJ). Beatboxer for CU Sur. The guy playing piano at strange hours in the EC 2ndfloor lounge. Dude with the cereal wall.

Where are you going? Straight to question 4.

Three things you learned at Columbia:

  1. You don’t need to have an opinion about everything. Though you are in a place where it often seems like everyone around you feels strongly about everything, that shouldn’t pressure you into adopting a point of view for the sake of having one. The issues that matter to you will jump out at you, whether they do so early or late. You are perfectly justified in being the quiet observant person that likes to be informed about all perspectives in a conversation, the person who listens and evaluates rather than talks. The important thing is, however, to find SOMETHING that matters to you. Whether it’s global in scale or even just a local matter, find that one thing that excites you, that can make you talk endlessly. You have four years to find that needle in this haystack we call Columbia. Go.
  2. It’s important not only to know how your mind works, but also how to work your mind. You need to know how to motivate yourself. Can you pick yourself up when you are faced with seemingly insurmountable confusion or stress? We live in an extremely dynamic world. What makes you happy may not last for long. The next thing to bring you down may be lurking right around the corner. You need stable sources of comfort that you can always depend on. To start, you have your family and friends. Perhaps serving a tennis ball or innovating in the kitchen makes you feel at ease. For me, classical Indian music has a personal meaning and a healing power that I know will exist indefinitely. I can always go to it, and things will be ok, no matter what.
  3. Get to know people and don’t hate. We started in different places and are headed in very different directions. But for one brief moment, our paths crossed here. We took a breath together here at Columbia. While you are on this picturesque campus, say hello or strike up a conversation when you pass by someone you know. You have more company here than you think. Friends of different years and schools will open your eyes to the world in different ways. You may occasionally find people who you’re not fond of. Don’t hate those people. Instead find something in them that you admire. Everyone here has something to teach you, whether it’s staying organized, staying in touch with others, handling awkward situations. Making time for fun, asking the right questions, understanding what your calling is. Empathizing, writing meaningfully, speaking eloquently. Or maybe someone has a sense of humor that’s new to you and you think it’s brilliant. Yes, I wrote that list, inspired by one person at a time, and I could tell you exactly who taught me what. I’m thankful that I know those people. They are all role models to me in some way.

Back in my day… I was welcome in Uris. The trip from home in Carman to dinner in John Jay meant tripping on bricks at least twice along the way. UNI meant only your university access code and NOT a one star eatery. (That was called Pinnacle). Dining from meal swipes meant you had two options: John Jay or Hewitt. Getting through the old EC lobby on a Thursday night was impossible. We used the “Old Courseworks” which may have been uglier but which I feel was faster at getting you what you needed.

Justify your existence in 30 words or fewer: In this moment I have your complete attention. If you think your time is worth anything at all, my existence is justified. If you couldn’t even read your LitHum books but you read my answer to this question, then my existence is justified. If you thought about the length of this answer and worried that it may exceed 30 words, if my answer matters THAT MUCH to you, then my existence is justified.

Write a CU Admirers post to anyone or anything at Columbia: Possibly the easiest question here. My post goes out to Dr. Kanak Manav Gupta, GS ’13. He has as many degrees as the sun and is the most out-of-the-box mind that I know. He demonstrates by example that it’s okay to take the wackiest, most absurd sounding risks as long as you believe in them, even when people around you label them foolish. Instead of feeling discouraged, Kanak proves those people wrong, achieving huge success that is predictable only to those who know his ways. Despite being a self-made spectacle of success by pursuing what he really loves, he continues to learn and try new things for the sake of knowing, making him the epitome of well-roundedness. He seemingly knows everything about everything, so don’t be baffled to see him help someone with homework from a class that he never took in his Godknowshowmanyyears of education. Or to see him get really into a conversation about the most random topic with someone he meets for the first time. Anyone, no matter how young or old, will feel like they are a friend of Kanak’s within minutes of talking to him. You can count on Kanak to make room for necessary comic relief even in serious situations. And because CU Admirers posts are not books, I’ll end it now with Kanak’s generosity. Whether with time, money, or attention, this guy will put anyone before himself (serious understatement right there). This post is for Kanak because he is an unheralded hero who improves life for those around him day after day, expecting nothing in return. Love you dude.

Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? Cheese vs OS. There’s a real Kraft to answering tough questions with logic. I’ll try my best to reason it out without letting anything slip pastyoureyes. But please don’t have a cow if you disagree with me. Let me approach this with our freshmen, the babies of Columbia, in mind. When they enter these gates, OS is not the first thing on their minds – rather, they are hungry and look at their dining options. But without cheese, even things which couldn’t get worse would get udderly worse – imagine john jay pizza without cheese. “Mac and cheese” would just be called “mac”, and people may confuse it with laptops or makeup, leading to health hazards. I won’t comment on Hewitt pizza because we all know that it’s legendairy. There is a subset of freshmen who don’t shower and who would begin to emit odors, possibly cheese-like. These freshmen would reap the benefits of both entities under question even if they were to give up cheese. This is unfair to those who DO shower. Based on established priorities and standards of fairness, there is no whey I can justify letting cheese go. It is and will always be grater than OS.

One thing to do before graduating:

  • Play tackle football on South Lawn when it snows a lot. If you’re lucky like I was my sophomore year, and you get almost three feet, you’ll have memories that surely outlast your frostbite.
  • Don’t be the guy who always orders a Chicken Pad Se-Ew from Thai Market. Try new places and dishes. Challenge yourself to discover new favorites.
  • Attend the HSO’s (Hindu Students Organization’s) bhajans in the Choir Room of the chapel on any Friday from 6-7 pm. Whether you are a Hindu or not, it’s an hour of devotional music following by a philosophical discussion or a music workshop from which you’ll be sure to take away something – a calmer mind, fantastic harmony, or some great new friends. Don’t stop there, attend other HSO events, especially if you like free food and dance parties. Make it a point to attend at least ANY one (inter)faith event for that matter. You have access to learning more about people around you in such a personal way, by actually attending services and discussions. Every semester, Hillel and a bunch of other groups organize an interfaith “service hop”. I highly advise checking it out.
  • Take golf. This incredibly popular class fills up fast so register for it first. You go out to an actual golf course and learn a new stroke each class. Golf is typically an expensive sport to play and you don’t just get to try it out for fun. The class meets weekly for half a semester and is very worth it. Who knows, golf just might be your thang.

Any regrets? I can’t get over the fact that I didn’t explore Dodge Fitness Center fully. How did I enter Columbia never having played squash and then leave…also never having played squash? I’m not obsessed with it, but the flavors listed at Café East and Tea Magic make me curious and I regret not having tried all of them. Most of all, I regret not majoring in buildingatimemachinesoicouldobackandrelivecolumbia.