The local train journey from Palwal to Delhi was different this time around. I was heading to the big city not to see any relative but for ‘college’. I’d heard a lot about Delhi University and I just wanted to be a part of any constituent college. To my elation, I discovered that my senior secondary score was within the cut-off of Deshbandhu College and the college also happened to be located in the proximity of Jamia Nagar where I wanted to put up. And that was it, the decision was made!
Classes had already begun and I’d missed many primarily because I could not locate my own classroom. When I did end up finding it, I was told-off for missing many classes. Clad in a full sleeve formal shirt and a loose pants, carrying an old rucksack, I had that rustic awkwardness about me. Post class, I mustered the courage to interact with some of my classmates and found them astonishingly enthusiastic and aspiring for different sorts of careers such as IAS, Journalism and Law.
It was a cultural shock. After all, I was a village boy with no definite goal and little guidance from my parents. Days went by and I was getting familiar and accustomed to the city life, college and friends.
Many of my friends started changing my get-up. In my first shopping run with friends at Sarojni Nagar flea market, I bought only t-shirts and jeans. This was the typical ‘costume’ of college-going lads. Soon I began hanging out with friends often after college hours and partying with them on certain occasions like birthdays.
After a span of three-four months, I was a completely different boy. College life had changed me from a country bumpkin to a sophisticated college-attending boy.
How could I forget the group discussions and political arguments put forward by the ‘new generations’ of David Held and Quentin Skinner? The topics of discussion ranged from pornography to India’s massive problems of poverty, unemployment, and malnutrition. Initially, I used to wonder how a small group of students could discuss national and international politics with so much ease! But later on, I realised that it was not a big deal; rather a part and parcel of college life.
Another fascinating thing in college was the annual cultural festival in which everyone would go crazy while dancing on the tunes of different songs. I recall the first year grand annual festival in which renowned ‘Dil Le Gayee’ Punjabi singer and lyricist, Jasbeer Jassi, was invited. I enjoyed the fest beyond measures but kept myself away from dancing. There were other joyous moments in the college when it organised competitions such as the freshers’ party, debates, seminars, and quizzes.
In the final year of my graduation, a tour of Udaipur was organised. The college tour was a study trip for Public Administration (a final year BA Political Honours subject which deals with how administrative machinery of government is run). This trip was exceptionally memorable as it was our final year of graduation.
Post the college trip, most of my classmates had started preparing for entrance exams for a number of universities which offered postgraduate courses. While I was fully engrossed in my JNU entrance preparations, the date of the Farewell Party was declared. Soon the atmosphere of the classroom changed and everybody was jovial. It all began with a very cheerful welcome poured on by our juniors. My eyes were teary with strings of tears waiting to stream out. It was, after all, one of the most sought after and the most cherished moments of my life. I was going to graduate soon. The celebration was under the gracious presence of the teachers. They were generously partaking in every activity of the farewell. I was the last one to get my turn to get pictures clicked with my most favourite teachers who played a decisive role in transforming me and making me career-centric.
The farewell was followed with the end-semester exam and I knew my days in college were now numbered. Soon, ‘the special voyage’ (college journey) ended but the memories continue to persist. Even today, memories of the farewell and the final day of the college remain poignantly intact.