Wherever I go, every place, I need to discover every side of it that I can with my two hands and feet. Because how can you consider loving something you don’t really know? I took a walk at 6 AM on a winter day at Jindal Global University one day – I saw a peacock fly, tens of other birds sit around me like I was a natural part of the surroundings, and I witnessed the campus wake up. Mornings for us college kids are usually the afternoons, but I think I’m more of a 6 AM person.
Why does it matter to know the campus as I’ve wished to? There is a culture of entitled pride that transverses us all in colleges these days, where rebellion weirdly stands for conforming to usual stereotypes of a college kid, and anything else is merely “weird”. There is a culture of appreciating only those things that are generally beneficial to all, and while that is well and good, I wonder sometimes as to where our love for beautiful places and wonder has gone. I see people complaining all the time – sentences like, “I feel boxed in, I need to get out of here”, or, “There’s just nothing on campus”, or, “I want to leave, this place has nothing for me”. The funniest part, is that these sentences almost always come from those who’ve never known the place like some of us have been blessed to know it. Go beyond the systemic flaws that exist everywhere and must be fixed, go beyond the issues, and go to a simple question that you’ve probably never asked yourself – have you given this place a chance, the benefit of the doubt, to be your home?
Somehow I feel, that what’s missing is a knowledgeable humility amongst people. A humility of noticing the more beautiful things than the darker, where the world is pervaded by a culture of bigotry enticing more bigotry, resistance to discrimination breeding more stereotypes, and people undone by their ignorance of the fact that sometimes the means to achieve something is more important than the ends. I feel that the students of JGU, perhaps including myself, require an ability to wonder and see beauty, and stand up to create a preserve it. Perhaps the only way I can communicate the strength of my wish for people to do this, is to write of myself.
All through my normal CBSE school life in Chennai, I yearned for those wonderful years of college where I would pursue that which I loved. Whenever I used to fail at something, I provided an excuse to myself in my mind, that everything I wasn’t doing then I would do when I got here. In my mind, I thought of finding new music in college, meeting the most interesting people, having the most beautiful experiences, travelling to the hills, the beaches, and the secret places untraveled to, and basically live the life of Kabir from Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. For me, there never was a second chance, because these three years of my undergraduate college at JGU is all the opportunity I had asked for in the entirety of my school life, the opportunity to have a little bit of an adventure – and when I’m here, I have no more excuses to give.
So when I saw that little bonfire by the flagpole, with people singing Tamil songs in the middle of Haryana, in the memory of Ashwin Maharaj last year, I nearly cried. That’s the beauty I wanted to find, and I couldn’t help frantically call every friend I had to that place, because that was without a doubt… beautiful. When I take a walk at night and see juniors at the flagpole now, apart from my initial uneasy memories of nights passed out there, I can’t help but love them with their guitars, music, and singing. It’s nights and days like those that I want to remember. Or even random public gatherings demanding change from the administration that bear fruit and result in hundreds of people being polite to each other and the people they’re angry with in an open space, and knowing respect when the “rebellion” of college kids would probably mean the lack of it.
So although I propound skepticism, I’m not a fan of cynicism. Never was, never will be. Because for me, it doesn’t matter if there are issues, for those by their very nature can be solved. But if there was a lack of beautiful things, like beautiful public spaces to walk in the morning or the night, or green grasses to lie on in October weather, or people with loud music playing “Tenu suit suit karda” outside while my Literature Professor blinks in confusion inside the class, or a simple lack of wonder in the majority of the people I know, I’d be horrified. Community is lovely, let’s preserve it a little bit more, and perhaps give this place a chance. There’s more to it than what meets the eye.
We see beauty only when we travel, when we want to see it, when the places we go to are definitely exotic and incredible. But it won’t hurt us to wish the same beauty upon the place we are in. So in our struggle to improve, debate, argue, change, and become the individuals, campus, and university that we wish to be, my wish is that we remember to have a little bit of wonder and a little bit of the light humility in us while we do so. We’re a relatively smaller community, which means that we could be closer too. In the spirit of open-minded intellectualism, against the dull and boring parochialism, could we give this place a chance?