In the last article of the ‘Through the Goggles of a Graduate’ series, Asmita Ghosh weaves a nostalgic account of the place that taught her to” love, forgive and heal”. From being a place that threw a lot of opportunities at her, helped grow the amazing singer in her, to the “safe haven” from home it was at certain times,in her five years years here she has truly fallen in love with every road, every building and shop that has stories to tell about her stay. We end the series for this year with this very nostalgic and beautiful love story with insti that most of us will be able to relate to at some point of time.
Insti, A Love Story
Thank you, insti. I don’t even know where to begin with you. Thank you for letting me grow up with you. I remember the first time I locked my very first hostel room in my first year (Hall 300, Sharavati), and felt a surge of importance and adulthood – I’d never had to lock anything of my own before! Since then your calm, steadying presence has been the backdrop to many more such moments of adulthood – learning to love and forgive and heal. Being a localite however, never got me getting around to learning how to work a washing machine. But onward and upward, as they say.
Thank you for the opportunities you’ve given me – the opportunity to become my own woman, the opportunity to think and form opinions about things, the opportunity to fraternize with the largest set of intellectually stimulating people I’ll probably ever meet at one time. Thank you for letting me sing. Music room jamming helped me grow so much as a singer, from not knowing what a harmony was to being a passable soprano in an acapella band I formed. Thank you for teaching me how to deal with people. I must have interacted with close to a thousand people over my five years here and every single interaction has taught me a little bit more about people and a lot more about myself.
I’m going to miss you. I’m going to miss these roads that refuse to let their beauty become commonplace. I’m going to miss walking down to Ramu’s at 3 AM and suddenly be struck by the sight of three blackbuck antlers silhouetted by the moonlight as they cross the road to graze on the Himalaya lawns. I’m going to remember the meteor shower I inadvertently caught while lying lazily on those same Himalaya lawns one night (yes, probably on some deer droppings), that seemed to exist for no one but my love and me. I’m going to miss the scores of dogs I’ve befriended, named, and loved – goodbye Appu, Millie, Pimpson, Romeo, Fluffy, Choco Chip, Tommy 1, Tommy 2, Tommy 3 (they all thought they were called Tommy), and Buntu!
I’m going to miss you in the monsoon, when the woody scent of your million trees invades my nostrils and makes me sentimental even when there’s nothing to feel sentimental about. This essay is being penned in one such bout – the pitter-patter of raindrops outside my hostel room window is the soundtrack to my thoughts right now. I’m going to miss the power-cuts these sudden thunderstorms invariably bring about – when every single girl in hostel comes out of their rooms in the giddiness that only monsoon brings and gets drenched in the quadi, excited whoops piercing through the hostel. I’m going to remember the walks I’ve taken with insti pitch-black, wading through the clear puddles that form on your roads, and that one time in first year’s self-conscious excitement where we sang loudly and tunelessly in the dark, because nobody could see our faces.
I don’t regret a single one of the many pairs of chappals I’ve worn out walking your winding roads day in and night out, sometimes with a boy I like, sometimes for the sake of a deep conversation with a friend that can’t be had in the eavesdropping confines of hostel, sometimes by myself because I love you so much, and most times, of course, because I still haven’t learned to ride a cycle and I really need to get somewhere.
I can’t imagine not being able to go get chai at 4 AM in the morning, simply because I feel like it, and then running into a random group of people I’ve spoken to only a few times before, and end up having an hour-long conversation with them. I can’t imagine walking these roads and not feeling like I ‘belong’, because that belongingness I am enveloped in will go away as soon as I leave you as a student. That’s what bothers me the most. That you will no longer be mine. That people around me will no longer understand what I mean when I say I want to ‘pack’ something. That I will no longer be able to walk down these roads with the quiet and comforting knowledge that these are my roads, and this is home.
Thank you for just being. Thank you for your large and solid presence in my life, that welcomed me back even when I wanted to run away home and never come back, because I was sick of the courses and sick of the people and sick of not having a clue with what to do with my life. Yes, I’ve had hard times with you. I’ve shut myself up in my dingy little hostel room for days and not come out during a harder time of my life, but I got out of my room, and out of that phase, and you were right there waiting for me to fall in love with you again.
I’m going to miss the safe haven you provide when I’m drunk as hell and can’t go back home for fear of my parents finding out. I’m going to miss Sangam grounds and the many illicit activities that happen on that skating rink. I’m going to miss Saarang, that’s been such an integral part of my first few years here – the heady rush that comes with organizing one of the largest festivals in the country, and the prospect of meeting attractive boys in them. One of my best memories in insti has been during Saarang in my second year, when I had arguably my coolest PoR – Western Music coordinator. It was the night before Decibels (Day 3) and my co-coords and I were zonked as hell after 2 days of non-stop work and very little sleep. We met at CLT lawns after the rock show and went over the events of Day 3, and then turned on some classic rock, lay back down on the grass, and grooved to some amazing music for about two hours, until one of us passed out from exhaustion. It was a night that I will never forget. Oh, and of course I’m going to miss the free t-shirts.
I’ve loved and hated and lost and found over these five years. I’ve grown distant from people I never thought I’d lose touch with, and buried the hatchet with people I thought I would never speak to again, now some of my best friends. I’ve battled depression and gotten better. I’ve had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows within these hostel rooms I’ve occupied (a different one every year, dammit Sharav!). I’ve learned so much, not just about Derrida and Foucault, but about friendship and love and people. Of course I don’t have it all figured out yet (I mean, with Derrida, you never really do), but I’ve grown such a great deal since I was 17 and first walked into this campus 5 years ago.
So thanks, insti. It’s been a good time.