Thursday, February 17, 2011

In which I turn anthropologist

The residential life is a curious social construct. You are on your own and your worth on campus is gauged in terms that are uncannily dissimilar to the outside world. Since you are on your own, you have to count, and that counting entails being smart at all times. This could take several varied proportions: either you could be smart in the intellectual sense,which means you come up with such gems on Facebook: "One is not publicly feted but one is on people's minds." (mine) or "Vivid in English and vividh in hindi have the same root. When you think of the former, you think bright colours, lush gardens, tea sets and white dresses. When you think of the latter, you see fields, a radio station, small TV sets and old time charm. What is it about language that makes it absolutely wonderful?" (mine, again---modesty is another virtue, besides virginity, that you lose on campus).

Getting back to the matter at hand, for some others, smartness implies smartness of form, meaning a tendency to lord it over others in a I-know-what-I-know self-assurance. For guys, this could mean advising all and sundry on matters all and sundry without really knowing the pitfalls of said advice. See, if you are not in the know,you are not really living the hostel life. Lack of news is death, even if that news is garden variety--titillating at best, bogus at worst. For girls, this means a realization that they really are the fairer sex. If you want to know what kid gloves are, please visit the IIM Lucknow campus and you would be treated to a nice, fluffy pair. Condition: Be a girl.

Then, relationships. You are away, distraught, mommy's comfort food out of bounds, so you walk into the arms of the nearest, and hopefully dearest, stranger. Only, such relationships fluctuate, and with good frequency. Is it about sex, one wonders. But no, there really is the smell of forever-togetherness here but the particulars are hazy.

OK, as a man, you are supposed to define your territory. This comes in vivid shades of blue (inspired by the cricket team, no doubt) and smells of male perspiration. It's there, you can breath in the sights and sounds of superiority that descend from the heavens of quantitative aptitude. You wanna count for something? Join the fin (short for finance) gang. I-banking talk will get you the bucks, the chicks and hopefully, some peace.

As a girl, you just walk the walk and talk the talk, basking in the glory of admiration that 98% of the panting population will shower on the 2% of you. So, you participate in plays, crash parties, and show general femininity to play the game. You will pass with flying colours and HR managers of even fin forms will eye you longingly.

So you learn to survive. It's tough. You learn to be on your own, and if that entails saying sweet goodbye to most of what you hold dear, well baby, that's just too bad. At least you would have written some readably penetrating posts by the end of it.

Hey, did I mention placements? Never mind.

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