It was my first day in college. Not just my first day in college, but my first day in any Indian Institution. My first day in a co-education system. The day in class was spent on introductions and settling down to the college atmosphere. Getting used the college air. Getting used to the “infamous” verandah in the college. Getting used to looking at a Senior with a sense of fear and maybe a bit of respect too.
The first floor was “no access domain” for the seniors. This was purely to avoid ragging of any kind. I was the only day scholar amongst girls. I didn’t have to follow the Freshie Dress Code. And what a dress code it was.! You had to wear mismatched salwar kameez. All three pieces must be of different colours. Hair must be oiled and plaited. To top it all, you had to wear only Hawai Chappals. I felt sad for the girls, in a way. But in a way I was happy too for them. They were united in that fate. I was alone.
Later, on that first day itself, we had a fresher’s meet in the auditorium. The principal and staff welcomed us, explained the rules and told us to register a complain about any inconveniences we face in college or hostel. My mom was waiting outside the college with my brother-in -law. They knew when the last bell would ring and were patiently waiting for me.
Because of the meeting , I was delayed. There were no mobile phones back then to message my mom and tell her the reason for my being late. I knew she would be upset. But, I couldn’t possibly walk out of the room just because mom was waiting, right? So I stayed till the end of the meeting.
When I walked down the steps to reach the parking lot, I noticed my mom sitting in the car with the windows down and eyes on the steps that I was going to use to come down . I saw the relief on her face when she saw me. At that point, the rebel in me, thought that she just didn’t trust me to be left alone anywhere. She has always been the over protective mom. It is only now , now that I am a mom too, do I realise what she must have gone through in that one hour that I was delayed. They did ,however, come to know about the meeting towards the end of that hour, on enquiry. But the anxiety of her child’s first day in college and the dangers that lurk around, always makes a mother paranoid.
This is the memory that came rushing back into my thoughts when I visited my college premises last month, after 17 years. That is a very long time. Almost feels like an eternity ago. How everything about me has changed since then!
You want to see it? Well, this is where it all began. My life as an adult. My life as a free (or somewhat free) soul. This is where it all changed. My thoughts, my ideas, my perception , my friends and my love.
Nothing much has changed there. A few new blocks have been added to the college and hostels and they have put check points all through the campus and hostels. Ironically , even the temple, children’s park and the park are all inside the campus. We have to cross check points to enter these premises. I had to tell them that I am an ex student and they let me in to see it all. 🙂
Let’s begin with the entrance and the steps, shall we?
Next, the entrance to the first floor , where we used to make Pookalam during Onam season. Where all the tables were laid when registrations were going on for various events. You can see the tables now too. New batch was settling in on the day I visited. It was closing time and thankfully isolated. I have sat in one of those chairs , while I took in registrations for a cultural event. Ages ages ages ago.
MIT Entrance Hall
Don’t you want to see the inside of my campus? It just brings in a flood of memories! I wouldn’t know where to begin.
The main campus
Next comes to the second most visited place in Manipal during my stay there. This was close to our hostel and we could walk to it every morning if we wanted to. This place has brought so much Solace to aching souls there. All those homesick freshers, all those “give me marks I smash coconuts” students, all those love sick and lost souls. I bet this temple and its adjacent parks have a million stories to tell.
Sree Krishna Temple
Adjacent to this temple are the parks. The one right in front of the temple was for romantic walks , complete with flowers and fountains. In front of this was a Bhel Puri Vendor. That was the first time I tasted Bhel Puri. There is still one there now and it still tastes the same. I like them without onions.
Bhel Puri Park
Now comes the most important place. You see the swings in the picture below? I used to spend most of my evenings there on them. That is when and where I used to think about everything with a free mind. After sunset, just after rains, in that cool wind, my hair flying all over the place. It was an amazing feeling. This is the part that I miss the most about my life in Manipal.
I have more pictures of the college and Manipal , but this post is already too lengthy. Maybe some other time, I will share more. If nostalgia forces me to.
So what are your first day in college memories? Do share them. College years are after all the best years of our lives, however uneventful they might have been…..