I live in Jammu & Kashmir, a state that’s in the news more often than not. Although, it is a single state, when one lives in both the regions they find out what it’s like two different states with ‘no common thing’ except the State Subject (a document that acts a proof that we are citizens of J&K). I had visited Jammu many times but to live there for a long time and to study in an environment different from mine was an adventure in itself. Before I go ahead, let me be clear about something, it doesn’t snow in Jammu. Please don’t get fooled that if it is snowing in Kashmir, it must be snowing in Jammu too. Thank you.
Joining the Central University of Jammu was a matter of chance. This was a time when Kashmir was going through the turmoil that lasted for seven months and Kashmiris outside were also in as tense a situation as those living in the region. One of the main reason being the media manipulating things and presenting a distorted reality. I remember joining the university on 26th July 2017, for an MBA in tourism and travel management. On the very first day, I was asked questions about my place, how we live, and if we were terrified to live there, and so on. I remember this being the first time I was justifying and making things clear about my place. But with time, it all became routine for me. A gradual habit which ultimately got me closer to my Kashmir. I became a lover of the paradise.
Studying in a developing university without a full-fledged campus is difficult to survive. Some days, we spent without electricity in the scorching heat. I studied a course where the focus was on classwork than other activities. Although as tourism students, we were supposed to understand everything through practical work but due to the lack of resources, we were learning only in the classroom, and in that small, lush green garden. Through discussions, presentations, skits, and obviously back to back exams, we learnt a lot, but still, a lot more could have been done. Thanks to powerpoint, we virtually travelled to different destinations to learn.
The best part about my degree was when I worked for eight months during my course. This gave me an insight into what kind of work was I more suited to, whether it was working on a desk with a computer or was I meant to roam around. Another good thing about my university was that we also had faculty from outside the state. It was enriching to learn from people hailing from different cultures and ideologies.
Being outside home is fun. You become independent. You take spontaneous decisions about your life and sometimes others as well. Moreover, you understand the value of things, otherwise forgotten. You also face things that can break you, and also make you. During my stay outside, many days it felt like I was living in a different world. The ideologies I was reading were from a different planet than mine. What always kept me going in an environment that could even be hostile to my Kashmiri identity was the aura of Room no. 102, my hostel room, a part of my tired soul.
You know they say home is where the heart is, my heart was there in room no. 102. My small family who treated me like the head of the family, and also the youngest child. I remember how my Assamese friend and I had those valuable yet meaningless discussions. Those late night talks with my friend from Delhi or the time spent with another friend from the Andamans, are memories to be cherished for life.
Not only this, it was lovely to see how all the ladies were so supportive of each other in difficult times. Except some, I found people who taught me how humans beings should be. While living in a hostel, you might find yourself in the purest forms. Your potential, abilities, flaws, weaknesses everything is revealed to you like a story.
I believe whatever happened at the Central University of Jammu, both in the professional and non-professional way has made me stronger. This journey has made me a better person, less judgmental, more tolerant, and above all someone who knows the value of opportunities. Although I have now left the hostel to join my training, still the memories of the room and the secrets it holds are intact for life.