Batchmates & Mooting

It’s very easy to blog about your seniors, because you know they’ll never (hopefully) stumble upon a rather embarrassing, but very honest exposition of why you love their batch. What’s difficult, is to write about someone you sit next to in class every. single. day. I’ve been struggling for 3 days now, because I can’t find the words.

I am a part of a set of addicts on campus known as mooters. Our drugs are Written Submissions, and our high is Oral Argumentation. I partake in several opportunities on campus, but very little compares to the feeling I get when I’m actively (or passively) researching on a moot issue. I’m awake all night because I don’t have an answer. I chain-read because I don’t have a solution that I am convinced by. It drives me insane, and I love it. In our first year of college, this dude & I turned up to college 4 weeks into the semester, because we didn’t have admission at GNLU before that. And our moot was a week away. In that week, we mustered the courage to ask seniors for help, attended a couple of debate sessions, got grilled like crazy (grilling: a process of preparing a mooter for oral rounds),  got ragged together (with him judging me playing an invisible piano), and wrote our first memorials.

We picked different moots. Sir created history by qualifying to argue at the South Asia Rounds of OxPrice (something GNLU hadn’t done), and spurred me on to work hard at my moot. He was my #1 cheerleader when I needed him to be, but my #1 pain-in-the-ass judge during oral prep – he grilled me for 2 hours, with his co-tied-for-first-place pain-in-the-ass judge.

In second semester, Sir did the impossible. In first year, he ranked #1 on the Intra pool. We went ga-ga, knowing Sir was doing an International Moot of the highest calibre. At that point, I was working on International Law, so Sir came and spoke to me about the stuff he was reading. It was pretty cool, because he discovered a book that inadvertently helped my prep, and I was grateful. What was cooler, though, was that, at different times, we were both doing moots that lasted 6-8 months, and that was a challenge we were excited to take on.

This is where my journey stops, and Sir takes over.

I watched on as a fellow mooter as Sir went through the paces, getting a Coach, working his socks off on drafts, finding out his draft got ripped apart, and going back to work his socks off on his second draft. I marveled at the fact that he stopped chasing ‘bettering’ his draft, but started chasing ‘perfection’. He moved around sentences, commas, and full stops, in the quest of the perfect form. And that was inspiring.

What was more inspiring was how he was systematically shredding the problem to pieces in his head. Sir’s issue was jurisdiction. He self-confessed that it was dry and boring, but Sir found a way to love it. His dedication transcended the content he was working on. Because of the zone he had now found, sifting through material and attempting to find creativity in a position of law he found brutal at the start was something he was enjoying. And that was contagious.

We chased America together this year. He chased Florida, and I chased D.C. Post exams, I had the honour of observing the specimen that Sir is, up-close, as we shared a room in Delhi for 26 days. Once I started interning, I saw Sir only at night, and with Roommate #3 (who will feature in this story at a later stage), we worked on our moots daily. But even then, I noticed something unique to the way Sir worked. He worked smart. A lot of us prioritize incorrectly. But everything appeared to be magically arranged in his head (atleast from the outside). The stress didn’t show, but the eagerness did, and the magic of that eagerness, was that he was now obliterating and ripping out every tiny possible error he found within his written submissions. Over the last two days, he barely slept. And once he was done with memorial submission, we went to eat pizza together one evening: getting ripped off in an expensive city together. It was fabulous.

That was when the oral practice started. Sir fell sick before oral rounds, coughing his lungs out on a couple of days. But that did not affect him one bit, something I admired. It is exhausted being unwell is a city that is unfamiliar to you, but he motored on. Partially, I believe, because he had put too much into the moot to stop working, a feeling I empathize with, but moslty because nothing, at that stage would detract him from going to Florida.

I dropped him off to his auto the day he left for the Delhi Airport – telling him to make his work count. And bloody hell, he did it in a way that brought me to tears sitting alone on my ugly yellow bedsheets. Sir made history again: taking GNLU to the World Rounds of a moot we had been waiting to visit again.

He didn’t make much of it then, and with an air of non-chalance, almost, went about with his daily life: interning in Bangalore, and then taking a trip to Bangkok, bringing out the inner Gujju-tourist in him.

Come fourth semester, Sir got back to work, but in something I can only hope to do with my life, managed to balance other commitments, such as managing the GNLUMUN with all of the work, and the pressure he was putting on himself at this point.

Sir worked very very hard. Under the guidance of his Coach, and with his phenomenal team-mates, Sir worked hard. Because India Rounds, and World Rounds, are two very, very different things. And together, as naive first years, we had discussed how absolutely mental it would be, to argue at the World Rounds of a moot. In awe, I watched from a distance.

We still sat together in class every single day, and I asked him how it was going. He’d reply “slow” sometimes, and sometimes tell me “it’s going fine only”. I thought that was pretty good. Sir then self-confessed he was growing tired of the moot the more he worked on it. I had no words of support to offer him at this point, except some sympathy.

The process of mooting is exhausting: physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s one of the things I love about the activity. It exacts every shred of you, and rips you to your bare. When you argue rounds, you argue with every fibre of your being, because nothing has mattered that much to you in your life, except the form of argumentation and trying to convince a bench that your words and your work and your arguments continue to stand despite what your opponents may come and say before the Court.

Sir is extremely daft/comical sometimes, something I think is important to mention at this stage. Before leaving, he confessed to me that he was worried he’d run out of clothes in America. That was Sir’s concern. Sir also kept telling me his rounds were ‘tomorrow’ when they were in ‘two hours’. He claimed that was a typo, but he admitted that the time-zones confused his brain.

I messaged Sir on Saturday to find out he was in the Quarter-Finals of the World Rounds. I shed one tear and wrote sentimental tweets and messages. Anything to tell him he had to make it now. 3 hours later Sir messaged he was in the Semi-Finals. He was two steps away: facing the same college that had beat him at the Indian Semi-Finals.

As a group we collectively responded with awe and continued to support him, praying for his success. The air on campus was getting noticeably silent. Everyone wanted to know if they would argue the finals. Everyone.

Sir texted: ‘We made it.’

Being the group we are, we responded with abuse (in the gentlest manner, to show him our excitement and pride) and began to find ways to watch it online.

Sir fulfilled a first-year dream I share with him, but a dream he fulfilled collectively for the college, the alumni of our college, and most importantly, a dream he had worked toward tirelessly for a year. He argued before the problem drafter, eminent jurists and a sitting judge of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. I had goosebumps watching him from start to finish – such was his demeanour.

I linked my parents to his livestream. They stayed awake to watch him with me.

Out of 85 people watching the live stream, I can affirm that a minimum of 65 were logged on from the same server in Koba. There were external speakers attached to laptops, cheers when we started speaking, and silence throughout the speeches.

He was great.

His teammate was phenomenal.

Together, they were insane. I was flabbergasted watching them. I sat on my Chair praying throughout.

Watching their opposition, I knew that these were the best two teams in the competition. My batchmate was 1/3rd of the 2 best teams worldwide at this point.

In an hour, my batchmate, the guy I’ve seen at his ugliest he’s been in the past two years, was 1/3rd of the best team worldwide.

They were Champions of the World. It was fitting that both oralists won citations: with Sir bagging 2nd Best Oralist (Prelims), and Ma’am bagging Best Oralist (Finals). What was also fitting was that they received trophies shaped like globes. At that point, they had the whole world in their hands, and Koba in tears.

I texted him when the judges were deliberating. At that point, fun activities were on the live-stream: they were asking questions and handing out green tee-shirts. I texted him to partake in these fun things and get me a green tee-shirt. He seenzoned me.

Sir was also requested by numerous fangirls to wave at them on camera. He snickered.

Such is Sir’s grace.

Sir drank bottled water on the finals table, a far cry from the RO we rely on here.

Sir went sheetless to the finals podium.

When he was announced as World Champion, I pumped my fists in the air and squealed like a 3 year old, exactly 1 year and 3 months on from when my seniors had induced the same emotion in me.

Sir reached Legend status, because he made history again on Saturday, the 1st of April.

My weekend, that weekend, was following LegallyIndia liveblogs for updates from moot results, and this post would be amiss without mentioning the fact that several other moots we achieved excellent things at as a University, and we have done very well at, as a University through the year. It’s insanity, and I’m proud to belong to a family of mooters at this college – an inter-generational family, so to speak.

But I’d also like to send a shout-out to my friends, whose moots didn’t go all the way they planned. And this isn’t some motivational thing I’m trying to pull on you, nor is it some preachy thing, but it’s me being brutally honest.

Some results don’t work out.

But some results do. Sir’s story, above, is an exemplification of that. Sir’s story also tells you that work: hard word, and smart work, pays off in the grand scheme of things.

If you enjoy working for the probability that your result may work out, then don’t stop working. Somewhere, I believe the Universe conspires for our success in ways we don’t understand fully. In light of that, if the Universe is putting in a little effort for you, you shouldn’t stop putting in that effort for yourself, right?

While Sir’s achievement will bring him a lot of adulation he has earned, what will fill our grey walls with colour is the story of Sir’s journey, because it represents the fact that your work will take you places. And if that work can fulfill a dream of yours, then it’s worth fighting for.

So go ahead world, and LegallyIndia, and MPL.

Throw us another Challenge. Rope someone in from GNLU by trying to tell them they have a 1/90 probability of winning something.

And watch them do it.

My Parting Words are me confessing my fan-girling to Sir’s teammates. You guys are amazing. You’re the reason I’ve written a post that is longer than half of the Projects I have written at this University.

Congratulations to the three of you and to everyone who picked up a moot win for us as a college. But Congratulations also to everyone who fought the war, lost, but fell in love with the art. Falling in love with a drug you’re intaking contributes to the high. And the high is incomparable.

P.S.: While I haven’t used Sir’s or Ma’am’s name in this Extended Essay, maybe you can check out the Stetson Website before you openly stalk them and accidentally give them notifications? 😉

7 thoughts on “Batchmates & Mooting”

  1. Wonderfully articulated, Tejas! It is a fitting tribute to a dear friend and an extremely hard-working lad. Our best wishes for all his future endeavours.

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  2. I am going to hire you Tejas Rao, for all my future litigation.Which will be quite a few.
    Well written.
    God bless you.
    Ketan Maniar

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    1. Haha. Hello Uncle!
      (a) I hope there aren’t many
      (b) Your son will resolve any you may have.

      Thank you ever so much for reading this, and for sending (Sir) to college. It’s a privilege to be his friend.

      Like

      1. Tejas, Shikhar has never stopped being in awe of you and now we can fully understand why! You have the capability and strength of character that will take you to the pinnacle of success in whatever you want to do! Shikhar is privileged to have a friend like you and we are eagerly waiting to see your next world round live! All the best! (Shikhar’s Mom)

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      2. Aunty, thank you so much for reading this and for your encouraging words. I’m hopeful that they do come true. I’m very grateful to be friends with him – he inspires me daily.

        Like

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