The life and times of Rohit Palekar
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 10:48pm
Rohit Palekar has a way of making you know who he is even if you’ve never met him. Whether it’s for his ability to make everyone around him laugh, his political opinions, or his loud, self-described “witch’s cackle,” you know Rohit Palekar.
Sometimes it is difficult to tell when Rohit is being serious. Discussing where he would like to be in ten years, he says that if he isn’t “kicking ass on Wall Street,” then he could envision himself living in the deep south bayou, “banjo in one hand and swamp flies in the other,” or living in McLean, Virginia, with “two dogs and a Volvo,” or possibly even as a Republican lobbyist in Washington D.C.
Any of those possibilities sounds realistic for Rohit (save for becoming a bayou man), as he will be double majoring in finance and accounting at the University of Illinois next year. His interest in business began at a young age.
“My parents were really into CNBC and the Stock Market in the '90s, so that's why I would always watch with them," he says. "I didn't watch Barney; I watched Maria Bartiromo."
Now that Rohit is older, he is interested in business because “it’s tied into our entire world, so if the economy stops running, the entire world stops running, as evidenced by 2007.”
Rohit also became politically aware early in his life; he recalls how he “drew Bush-Cheney signs and plastered them all around the house” during the U.S. Presidential Election of 2000, and that he “was going crazy when [Bush] won.”
“I think I’ve been a lifelong Republican, or at least a lifelong conservative,” he says. “Uni’s a very liberal school. […] I just feel like it disregards any other thought besides [liberal thought].”
With his interests in business and politics, and multiple references to history teachers Chris Butler and Bill Sutton throughout our interviews, it is no surprise that Rohit is a history buff as well.
“I really enjoy Mr. Butler’s history class because I think he’s very fair," he says. "He listens to both sides and he gives you his historical perspective. […] I think he puts a lot of work into [his class] and it really shows that his entire life is put into those flowcharts and his entire passion.”
He also says that Sutton is “an excellent teacher,” even though they don’t agree on many things.
Going on to praise aspects of Uni and its teachers, Rohit qualified his statements with one that is uncharacteristic of Uni students: “I don’t really see anything super-exceptional experience-wise about going to Uni. I think it has met my expectations, but I don’t think it has exceeded them, like gone above and beyond.”
“It’s kind of narrow-minded sometimes," he explains. "I kind of wish it were a little more fluent in things other than video games and science; I wish people would turn on a news channel or read something other than a Japanese comic book from time to time. And that’s a bad generalization. […] I kind of just wish it [Uni] was a little bit more interested in other things besides just a few handfuls of things.”
Nevertheless, he still thinks he likes Uni better than he would have liked Centennial.
Looking forward to the next four years of his life, Rohit is hopeful that college will open him up to new ideas and is interested in doing a study abroad program in China, India, or London, if possible. Looking further in the future, Rohit says he is “definitely” interested in a graduate program sometime, and of course he mentions the McLean house.
“It's so idyllic; who wouldn't want to live in a suburb?" he says. "It's very quiet; everybody goes to bed at 9 o' clock. It'd be awesome to live in a suburb; you don't have to do anything. I can't wait to be old because I wouldn't have to do anything. If I can get one of those little Hoverounds I wouldn't have to exercise, I wouldn't have to do anything; it'd be great.”
But at the end of the day, despite his interest in moving beyond high school and his criticisms of Uni, he has learned a thing or two in his five years here.
“I've learned that you're not supposed to take food out of some fridge that's not yours, but I still do it," he jokes. "[…] I’ve learned not to tell people that you’re ticklish.”
He also regrets being so loud throughout his time at Uni, and having a fauxhawk subbie year.
“I looked like a bad rhinoceros,” he comments.
Rohit handles a chicken at classmate Abby Radnitzer's farmhouse. Photo courtesy of Rohit Palekar (click to enlarge).
Although Rohit won’t be inundating Uni students with outrageous and hilarious comments next year, he will still be on campus, and he will still be able to frequent Starbucks, one of his favorite haunts. It becomes clear throughout the course of our interview that one of Rohit’s true passions is the one he has for Starbucks.
“My shortest time from Uni to Starbucks is five minutes," he boasts. "Five minutes there and back. I sprinted. Sprinted. [...] The fact that I’m going here means I have my barista. [...]
She’s really chill; she’s given me free stuff once or twice.”
Indeed, he says all he needs to be happy is -- not surprisingly -- coffee.
“What do I need to be happy? I dunno, these are hard. I said Starbucks already. Probably just some caffeine, because [...] caffeine -- it's not a drug I don't think, right?”
So if sometime next year you see a well-dressed, well-spoken business student at Starbucks on Green Street, sipping an awake tea latte, be sure to stop and introduce yourself.
A quick look at Rohit Palekar
- Favorite Movies: The Graduate, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Wes Anderson films
- Favorite Music: "Old" Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Muse, Adele ("she speaks to everyone's soul"), No Doubt, Destiny's Child, Lil' Kim, Gwen Stefani, George Harrison, Mark Ronson, etc.
- Favorite Books: Anna Karenina, Richard Yates's books.
- Favorite Quote: "I’ll make one up and claim it’s someone else's, and no one will look it up, and if they do, then you know what? They have no life."
- Favorite Decade: "If I could go back to one decade and just live there, it’d be the '80s. To live in a Jon Hughes movie would be great.”
- Favorite Starbucks Drink: "If it’s cold out, I’ll probably get a venti four-pump skinny vanilla latte, or a grande three pump Awake Tea latte. Or if it’s hot out I’ll get a venti passion tea lemonade, no sugar, four ice cubes. It has to be four ice cubes because if I’m spending that much money on a drink I don’t want to be gypped. They fill it up half with drink and half with ice, and I’m like, 'I’m spending four bucks on this; I’m not gonna waste it on ice.'"
- Top of his bucket list: "Skydiving. I figure if an 80-year-old George Bush can do it, I can definitely do it."
- Boxers or briefs?: "Loincloth or fig leaf, depending on what kind of day it is."
- If you could were stranded on a desert island and could only bring three items: "One’s a blackberry -- I’m just throwing that out there. The other would be a snuggie, oh a desert island, s---… no still a snuggie. Blackberry, snuggie, season three of "Mad Men." Yeah, season three of "Mad Men" -- I guess with a TV. I guess that’s four."
- Favorite TV programs: : "Mad Men," "Damages," "The Graduate," "Saved by the Bell," "The Cosby Show."
- His list of most inspirational people: "The Republican Roster; it's gonna be Jon Huntsman, Dick Nixon -- not Richard, "Dick," because I think it's more informal -- Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., Howard Hughes -- I like Howard Hughes -- oh and the cast of Jersey Shore; I just think it's really impressive that they've turned being trashy into millions of dollars; I think that's really impressive. I don't look up to them; I just admire how much money they've made. [...] Oh, add Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice to that list."