Desk Conversations

For most of the last four years, I sat on the same desk, with the same two friends next to me at University. I didn’t speak much; I’m not really much of a class conversation-person because it’s difficult for me to speak in hushed tones and have a meaningful conversation. In my first year I paid attention to classes, in my second year, I slowly moved toward reading, in my third, I slept, and in my fourth year, I began reading. Last semester I ended up moving desks to sitting on a different corner of the classroom. This semester, I’ve been away from those friends and that desk as a result of a split in divisions. It’s weird what that does to you. Now my roommate and I say bye to each other in the morning and don’t see each other till we get back post-classes; when earlier, we said “I’ll see you in class”, and he ensured I attended the classes necessary to keep attendance in order.  It’s not that my surroundings are unfamiliar to me: the new section consists of half the population from my old class, but it is a change – a change I’m not entirely convinced we needed in our final semester.

In any case, it means I now sit with different people. Like I said earlier, I didn’t speak too much in class. I did speak with my deskmates from time to time, and have been called out for speaking too much by one professor in particular, but other than I that, I mostly kept to myself while class was underway.

Today, however, presented the chance to catch up with a friend I’ve been trying to catch up with since I got back – but whose schedule is so distinct from mine that we’ve not found a slot to meet. So we sat and caught up on our winters, on the things we read, the things we did, the things we saw. I’ve become close to this friend because his background is so different from mine that I love the perspective he brings to my life. He was the first person from University to ever visit my home – despite not being from Bangalore, the first friend from campus that my mother got to properly meet. In catching up, the one thing that became apparent to me really quickly is that we had very, very different winters.

Both of us stayed with family, but he stayed without the internet. The impact of the internet on our everyday lives is something I’ve been acutely aware of for a while now, but it is only interacting with individuals whose internet supply is cut-off by the State that you recognize the kind of liberty the internet allows you to exercise. I’m not entirely sure what you can do in rebellion, but there are organizations working to figure out that internet access in this country goes unrestricted, and they deserve all the support they can get.

Naturally this meant two professors (of three) called us out for talking. In one period I was asked to switch spots, so as to not disturb the professor at all. I would, in my first year, have been scared about the repercussions of this – the kind of impression this incident leaves on the professor, etc. Today, however, I’m glad I took the opportunity to catch up with my friend. This professor won’t remember my face tomorrow anyway. Desk conversations are worth having when you can have them. They’re a quiet rebellion. Like the paquetas in Cuba which ensure the internet reaches every individual through an informal market.

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