24 hours can see you go through a whirlwind of emotions, and it’s beautiful to see how much life you can pack into one day of existence.
Today for instance, I gave oral preparatory rounds to a friend of mine, and then spent a good 30-40 minutes relaxing with my friends. Its one of the first times I’ve taken an extended break like that in the past 3 months, but it was the most fulfilling thing I did today.
India’s such a diverse country, and I’ve always spoken about my desire to travel and explore as much of it as I can. It’s the reason I went to Delhi in November, and part of the reason I’m desperate to go to Mumbai in May. I just want to see as much of the country as I possibly can, and try to connect with as many people as I can.
This desire stems out of how spoiled I was when we moved to India from the UAE. Back in the 6th Grade, I couldn’t deal with a lot of things around me. I didn’t know how to respond to the existence of mosquitoes, ants, and black spots on bananas – in essence, I was used to a very protected, artificial lifestyle, and India thrust me into reality. And it stung.
I hated it for a while, and studying at an International school didn’t help to correct my attitude. Within the confines of school, I was surrounded by like-minded, recently repatriated individuals, and finding ourselves in our motherlands, we did the exact opposite of what common-sense would have told us to. We developed accents and tried with all our might to protect our sense of ‘foreignness’.
That took me a while to shake off. I never really read about India or it’s history. I didn’t bother reading any news apart from Sports pages, and if someone told me about politics (this continued till 10th Grade), I got annoyed and left the conversation.
I think this possibly worked as a defence-mechanism. Some way to show that I wasn’t Indian. The trips back to Dubai didn’t really help me either – I always connected more with Dubai than with Bangalore.
All of this changed as I prepared for CLAT. I realized how little I knew about where I was studying when I pushed myself to attend coaching classes. I did a lot of firsts in the 11th Grade – traveled by a local BMTC, yelled at an auto driver, fought and bargained with a couple of people in my mother-tongue, and it felt fantastic.
The more GK questions I failed at, the more I realized that my ignorance had hurt me. And that realization really hurt. It sucked to know that I stayed in a place for nearly 6 years and didn’t care enough to understand what the place really was. Which is why what I’ve been doing since then, is mere over-correction.
How all of this relates back to me chilling with my friends, you ask?
Well, I answer.
Even if you don’t ask.
My sense of identity has been pretty weird. I’ve always asserted my inner-Kannadiganess, in my mannerisms and tastes/preferences, but I still can’t read Kannada and appreciate Kannada literature (hoping to change that in the next 2 years). If people ask me where I’m from, I’m torn between Bangalore and Dubai, and often explain my life’s backstory – losing people’s interest in the interim.
So while I read a lot about India, my sense of identity really got cemented when I came to college. I made a decision to study in India when I had an easy-route out to a good University in the UK, and the minute I did that, I decided that I’d immerse myself in everything the country had to offer me, and possibly loot more out of the country, in terms of experiences.
I missed Bangalore a lot in the first semester. And I missed Kannada more. Kannada, the way I spoke it at home – with my tattered bits of English and a lot of slang words. The ‘clean’ Kannada, without any swear words, or pieces of Shivajinagar. The Kannada that was incomplete.
All that missing disappeared the minute I found this guy from Jayanagar and this other one from Basaveshwarnagar. Two people, a Punjabi and a Gujarati, whose flair in the language far exceeds any capabilities I will ever have, and whose Kannadiga-ness I have never doubted. Two people who stayed in locations I knew moderately well, but still made fun of me for being an outcast from Whitefield.
So today when we sat together to chill, I felt like I was at home.
And college is beautiful because you feel like you’ve known everyone forever.
Which just got me sentimental, and I thanked my stars that I decided to stay back in India. Someone else in the UK would have made me feel at home by talking to me in Kannada, but it wouldn’t compare to these guys yelling at me for not knowing the words to ‘Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate’.