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Commuting An Hour And A Half To College Everyday: A Portrait

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[Disclaimer: the views expressed in this piece are purely personal. If you disagree, what are you doing here? Go fight a war or something. The Army needs you.]

To all of you snowflakes who don’t know what it is like to be in the real world, let me set the scene: it is a cold December morning. Fog is tightly wrapped around the city, shrouding everything. The birds are yet to wake up. The only people out there are your colony’s security guards, nearing the end of their duty, huddled up near the fire. If you can withstand the cold, winter is the best season to be a security guard, because no criminal wants to die of hypothermia. The sun is yet to rise and everyone and their mothers are inside their blankets, the idea of waking up impossible.

Wordsworth called it “the beauty of morning: silent, bare […].”

You call it “God damn it, time to get on the Metro.”

I would like to suggest all of you ignorant, fickle, vile atheists to travel long distances to get to college. You’ll start believing in God, for the things you have to deal with on a daily basis on the commute require some belief in the existence of a higher being who’s looking after you and will make everything alright.

This is not how life is supposed to be. The higher being has bigger things in store for you. That’s why you suffer. As is written in Isaiah 43:2, when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

A view at the South Extension Station of the Delhi Metro. (Photo: Sanchit Khanna for Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

As it turns out, there is a God. Because, when was the last time the Bible was wrong?

Personally, I see God in the king-sized bed that I come home to every night. Johnny Cash was once asked about his idea of paradise. “This morning, with her, having coffee,” he replied. That’s what getting on that bed every night feels like. Paradise.

Shah Jahan, for all his good qualities, didn’t have to travel on the metro for two and a half hours a day. That’s how he ended up being wrong about Kashmir being paradise on earth.

Earlier, when I used to live nearby, my attendance used to be spotty at best. I used to sleep in, and sometimes I’d skip classes to go watch movies. I was still afloat, but barely. In other words, I used to have a life. And then I moved far. Time, it seemed, came to a halt.

We’re humans. Our time on earth is limited. With us, time itself does not progress. Instead, it revolves. (That’s Oscar Wilde. Go read a book.)

Humanity is burdened with the unbearable weight of the passage of time. And nobody knows that better than a student who travels long distances to college. It costs me ₹60 and two hours each way to commute to and from the university.

Now, on days I attend university, I do not miss a class. I hereby issue a challenge to the Jamia authorities: schedule a class at 9:30 p.m. I dare you. I will attend the living hell out of it. I will attend it like my life depends on it. More often than not, it does.

And, God bless you if you have friends. And no, the Delhi Metro doesn’t count as a friend. Don’t @ me.

When you traverse the breadth of the land to reach your college, all you want to do is attend classes and rush back home. You practically become God’s lonely man. You meet your friends during class and for a while afterwards, and that’s it. You can’t catch evening shows, because that means reaching home at midnight. You can’t eat out with them, because that means getting late.

A Delhi Metro train crosses a bridge. (Photo: provided by author)

Since the moment I moved out, I laugh at anyone who lives near their college and tells me they’re tired if I want them to meet me somewhere else or come to my house one day. Sure, snowflake. You’re precious. Are your feet dirty after walking those 10 steps?

To those who idle around a bit too much, try becoming long distance students. You won’t know where your time went. Minutes and hours seem to blend into one and you find yourself catching up on lost time at any given point of time. Because time, for long distance students, passes a bit faster.

Travel, for all its good qualities, kills you. It makes you miserable and it also makes you treat the coaches as if they were your aunt’s house where you have the free hand to do anything. The other day, I saw a person shying away from sitting cross-legged on her seat on the Metro. Oh pilgrim, you are so naïve. In here, we lie down and we sleep if we get the chance.

But on most nights I come home to the smell of my mother cooking something. The TV is usually on and my brother is studying in front of it. She steps out of the kitchen and asks me how my day went. I change and she serves me a hot dinner. After dinner, we sit in front of the heater and talk. And for a moment, maybe just for a moment, I’m not bitter anymore and everything seems worth it.

That is, until the next morning.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Vivan Mehra for India Today Group via Getty Images.
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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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