A non-IITian’s trip to ACM ICPC

Beginner’s luck, whatever you may call it, or whatever you think of it, is the real deal. In my case, it is not the life-changing deal, but an experience. Disclosure of how I got there is not included here. Although it may make a great story, some stories are never meant to be shared.

It was around 3:30 AM when we got down the sluggish train and had coffee.I was weightlifting with the two of my besties while our coach dragged her bag all the way through,you know,the wheels one.We were in search of the yellow Amrita Vahini which ‘should have been’ there according to the information provided to us.Not willing to journey to the nearby bus-stand, we hired an auto to drop us at the university at Ettimadai, 20km from Coimbatore.The driver struggled to communicate in Telugu while we were informed of his nativity from our state.We reached there at 4:45 AM.Adding to the already bad omens, the team list didn’t contain our names.We were made to wait half-an-hour when they finally decided to let us in after noting down our identities for verification.The auto dropped our coach off at the women hostel,Gargi Bhavan and abandoning us at the end of the road,at Vasishta Bhavan.

After verifying our details,we were taken to a room which had two bunk beds and an abandoned look.We prepared the beds with sheets and pillows provided to us earlier at our reception.The room was so silent 5 minutes after like a graveyard.I was always the early waker.We took off to the opposite mansion for breakfast.Bread with butter,upma and chai for the day.You wouldn’t know then that you were to be only eating bread the whole stay.The day broke with 3 full-time naps of my buds,while I stared at the plain roof.The next day,a practice contest was conducted to make us familiar with the programming environment.We solved only one,which was our lucky number.Contestant kits were provided later in the day.The pictures folder was empty which forced us to go round the college in search of the group-pose spots.Most of them were captured by our coach while we made faces.The widespread greenery in the university soothed our nerves and prepared us for the upcoming momentous event.

It was the day of the change, a place for us to advertise our grounds. Are we prepared for this? We’d only answer it if we knew. But we didn’t. The contest commenced.

Clocks ticked alongside our key strokes.

We couldn’t win over our specter, the number 1. Though we strived 6 hours to solve the second, inexperience lifted our hands off the board. We stood at 140 where around 220 participated.

Later the day, the problem solving session involved experts coding with ease while the toppers hurled complex scenarios at them. We pale-faced until the speaker spoke of his first experience at the contest. He said he couldn’t solve any and the next time, only one. Our coach was glad that we were a year ahead. T-shirts, cups and the mention of our team name, Blank, as one of their favorite name-picks were the only things that made us happy. We booked ourselves a trip to Ooty the next day.

Srikar Written by:

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