By senior year he would become one of the College's most poised and spirited students, but Mohan M. Nadkarni '85 had an inauspicious start.
During his first Harvard hour exam, he fainted.
Suffering from a stomach flu, Nadkarni began a test in Chemistry 10, an intense pre-medical course. As he worked the third problem, the room started spinning and he passed out, but other students remained too preoccupied to help.
Cecelia C. Meagher '85, a fellow Chem 10 student, came to Nadkarni's rescue after 45 seconds, summoning an ambulance to convey the stricken freshman to the hospital. "He was still breathing," recalls Meagher, a certified Emergency Medical Technician who does not forget the extreme irony of would-be doctors ignoring their unconscious comrade.
None the worse for the experience, Nadkarni recently laughed while recalling rumors that he had taken heroin before the test. Some classmates, he adds, asked for extra points because his fainting broke their concentration.
Nadkarni recovered to continue his atypical--but very successful--pre-med career. Some remember him as a picture of calm amid brutal conditions, sitting bemusedly in the back row of Organic Chemistry lectures while 300 others furiously fumbled with four-color pens while taking notes.
He used his energy in other ways, assuming the social and intramural mantles for his freshman and upperclass dorms, becoming an All-Ivy athlete in an unfamiliar sport, refereeing some 1000 intramural basketball games, and making plans to marry his high school sweetheart later this month.
Not Your Normal Pre-Med
"Sometimes he's just too rah-rah for me," says one classmate who proffers amazement at Nadkarni's energy. Certainly he defies the stereotype of the pre-med, hunched in a corner of Cabot Library, coming out for meals and sacrificing social life for future rewards.
But Nadkarni admits to a fair chunk of book time cramming for exams in Cabot. A high school friend. Rachel J. Givelber '85, says that Nadkarni "for as long as I can remember has been pre-med." As his lab partner in high school, Givelber remembers that Nadkarni "would always fudge the results so it would come out perfectly."
During freshman year Nadkarni lived in Weld, which gained a reputation as a wild and crazy dorm in part from his initiatives. As Athletic Secretary, charged with organizing intramural, Nadkarni proudly recalls that Weld set a new record for total points. Gilad Y. Ohana '85, a member of the Weld contingent, says, "Mo must have gone through 500 sheets of oaktag, posting notices on his door. He is very good at getting people to do what he wanted in a very nice way--when other dorms would show up with five people, we would show up with 20."
Nadkarni and his roommates treated their entry to tea-bag philosophy every morning with a "Thought for the Day," including gems like "I should have gone to Stanford." Some, however, found Nadkarni too enthusiastic. "He expects everyone to be interested in doing what he's doing," says one classmate. Nadkarni agrees that he offends people sometimes, takes on too many responsibilities, and is "not always the most humble guy."
But he adds that he is "not afraid to make a fool of himself," if he can help others loosen up. After Nadkarni moved to Winthrop House, be became House social chair and added such diversions as jello wrestling to more traditional activities. Once he dressed as Cher for a lip-synching contest. A devout fan of the Washington Redskins. Nadkarni donned a tux and hosted a party during the 1984 Redskins-Raiders Super Bowl.
The "Hinjew" Family
Nadkarni traces his compulsive enthusiasm to his family, where he says he learned the "spirit of brotherhood" under the influence of Ghandian principles his father brought from India.