Somewhere I Belong

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No, that's not me in the picture.
Salman Khan isn’t even close to being the actors I’m interested in currently. I belong to those category of people who like his 90s version more. Among the things that don’t amuse me as much are long train journeys. I absolutely detest the idea of being restrained to a berth for more than twelve hours. It stresses me out. Sometimes even more than a Salman Khan Eid flick.
 
I had reached Kashipur in an evening train almost a month ago. When it pulled into the station I was already worried about the harassing I’d have to face by auto-rickshaws. But imagine the joy of meeting a group of men with a placard saying ‘Welcome to IIM Kashipur’ by the exit gate! I could have pulled them all into a collective group hug if there wasn’t the risk of being labelled mental so soon. Little did I know that at the same time next day I’d be sitting in Suncity Cinemas watching Salman Khan starrer Sultan with three absolute strangers.
 
I spent the night tossing and turning in my bed. I was too buzzed to sleep. On the one hand I wanted to get up and meet everybody there was to meet, on the other hand my introversion put an invisible handcuff tying me to the steel cot. By the time the sun rose I had decided that this was the time that I came out of the shell. By noon I’d met and remembered ten names and background stories. By evening I was on the way to catch the evening show of Sultan with three brand new friends. One of whom had arrived to Kashipur just two hours ago. And none of whom was a fan of Salman Khan.
 
There’s a kind of a mad consistency about crazy plans living the name. They are actually always crazy. We didn’t know that this demigod’s new film spanned three hours and would make us miss our dinner at the hostel. We didn’t know that we wouldn’t get auto to the college at 10 in the night. We also didn’t know that sometimes the mess staff served food till 10:15 as well, our hostel touchdown time. 
 
It took me a day to get used to the idea of living the hostel life having left the previous college a few years ago. It took me the better part of a month to get used to the idea of sweating constantly having never done this before. Though I hail from Gujarat, have studied in Rajasthan, have worked in Odisha, I have never experienced air so humid that it elicits new kinds of scent from my body.
 
Talking about getting used to things, there is the honking of the bus that will haunt me for years to come now. Every morning the shrill sound hits me as I’m falling over things getting ready and trying to make it to breakfast in time. It’s ironic to think that the object of my joyous surprise of the time when I’d arrived in Kashipur has changed my feeling towards itself so quickly.
 
Talking about getting used to things, there is the quality in the food that will haunt me for years to come now. When I bend in my chair to pick up my pen from the floor, I feel new fat wrapped around my waist. There are pants that I can swear fitted me better just fifteen days ago. Every night I sleep with the resolve of eating a little less the next day. Every night I have to face the shame of failing my previous night’s resolve. I’m jogging in circles.
 
Talking about getting used to things, you’d have thought that you’d get used to my loopy writing style. I know every time I start a repeating sentence you want to take that shoe off and throw it on the screen. I also know that you have made a choice to read this curiously written piece yourself, and you can choose to not waste your time reading it. But I’m extremely humbled and grateful that you’re sticking with it so far.
 
My time at Indian Institute of Management Kashipur hasn’t seen a lot of mornings yet. A testament of that is the fact that until yesterday I didn’t know we can call a carpenter to fix a nail for the round wall clock I’d been balancing on my window for the past month. And yet, even after being here for less than a month, I feel like home already. A major factor is the lack of any recurring complaints in my mind about anything. I’ve settled too comfortably already.

Of course that doesn’t count the kind of rough beatings I’ve been getting in the academic arena. Every time I think I’ve got the hang of things now, and every time I think that the rope I’m walking on has become friendlier, I slip off with an unexpected violent jerk. But, no complaints. This is exactly what I’d signed up for. And nothing makes me happier than deliverance by things that I had high expectations from. Except maybe the kind of happiness the Fruit Custard gives me every Thursday. 
 
There are times when I forget that I am finally where I’ve been aiming to be since the past four years. But the boldly painted words on the yellow bus that waits for me by the hostel gate every morning, and the small sheet of paper pasted on the lectern in all the classes that says ‘IIM Kashipur’ pulls me down to earth and reminds me that this is it.
  
I have managed to reach here by a little bit of old magic, but to pull through with such high expectations I’ve set for myself is a task that’s still undone. Nothing makes me happier than deliverance by things that I had high expectations from. And what I expect from my college is exactly what it expects back from me. Deliverance. The exact reason why along with our esteemed professors, a student of the sixth batch of the Post-Graduation Program was also called on the stage to light the lamp in the inauguration ceremony of the course.

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