Films of the late ‘80s and ‘90s immortalized the student populace as fun-loving, singing-prancing, volatile peoples; as entities with rebellious tendencies and a penchant for settling rivalries through bicycle races, boxing matches and dramatic fisticuffs.
Having been a toddler when those films were made, I can’t comment on the veracity of projections from that decade. Nevertheless, these Technicolor profiles of boys and girls seem to have been etched deep in the minds of concerned elders. So much, that friendly folk well past the college-going age think they know it all when they liken the students of today to Bollywood’s bratpack and thespians of thirty years ago. Justice anyone?
So one came to think, what better way to start off a Weblog chronicling campus stories than by tweaking a few (sometimes Bollywoodish) myths that heave us poor children down?
Why is it that people find it imperative to remark on the lines of: "College days are the best times. So. Carefree and so worriless!"?
Now there is nothing openly objectionable in that sentiment. Yes, these are fun times with no major obligations, but why presume we don’t have our issues? We too, like any age group are plagued by niggling confusions and anxieties! For instance:
1) Exam papers framed as if the university is running a bet on the number of people it can flunk.
2) Rules based on the whims of malicious authorities.
3) High expectations/ambitions, low deliverance.
4) Parental insistence and constant prodding regarding some neighbor’s second cousin’s prodigious grandchild’s achievements.
5) Wondering if we will get into that university we’ve been dreaming of since passing the 10th boards, or if we will get that dream job
But no! They think our point of interest is invariably the latest movie in town, or what the popular hangout is.(Did they spend their time in college singing songs about hopeless dancers named Pappu?) Clearly, we are a misunderstood race.
Education and the process thereof, is no cakewalk. It might sound like I’m stating the obvious, but we really don’t wear leather jackets and sustain gang-rivalries. We are not demure girls whose neela dupattas and peela suits are the themes of songs sung in loving playfulness. When we leave home, it is not to run away(sic) and pursue torrid romances. The fact of the matter is, while these are likely occurrences, they don’t make for great generalizations. Not all of us are like that, you know!
A more proper generalization is that of people’s mornings spent pondering over what to wear to classes and not break any rules-considering the various stipulations laid down by all colleges. Venerable authorities for some reason think people will dress up in hot-pants and ragged clothes if they don’t ‘regulate’ them. Apparently, being students weakens our notions of appropriateness regarding attire, behaviour and thought. Ask any education department rule maker worth his salt and he will tell you why these ‘codes’ are the direst necessities. "These kids don’t have the maturity to think for themselves" he would thunder.
Quoting an eloquent student in a newspaper article, "At 18, we are allowed to choose our leaders but not what we wear". If I can add to the list, we are allowed to drive cars, enter into matrimony, sign property deals– all at age 18 but no, we can’t risk choosing clothes.
And you thought we all had secret agents posing as students and Miss Universe pageant winners dressed in see-through sarees for Chemistry Profs . Wait as we roll our eyes.
Continuing the discussion on agreeable generalizations, another addition is the eerie exam scare. Pardon me if that is stating the obvious yet again. But The Bangalore Education domain adds masaledaar (sometimes macabre) twists to the process,
A certain university bearing the city’s name is noted for the surprises it throws at unsuspecting students. Everybody knows at least one person whose application to a university or work is stalled because results were withheld (for no logical reason); or scores deviated irrationally from what was expected; or because the university took its own sweet time in declaring results. Then there are the engineering and medical colleges, an empire unto themselves!
I will descend from the moral high ground and accept that the problem lies in elements of the Great Indian Education System itself. I am not discounting us students who, in all sincerity, complain more than we ever study. But hey! Freak stories are freak stories.
Then what about filmi rivalries you ask? Let’s set the record straight on campus battles where Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar is the thumb rule. Grudges and ill-will are fought out on different arenas in the Bangalorean college scene- Ever witnessed an RVCE- NLSIU parliamentary debate face off? Or the RV-NLS-BMS quizzing triumvirate?
Walk into an Utsav(BMSCE), Le-Gala(NLS), Cul-ah(MCC), Precipice(SBMJC), Unmaad(IIMB) and be assured that inter-collegiate tensions run pretty high in the cul-fest universe.
Fests, check! Dress codes, Check! How can we forget the phones? A recurring theme of most collegian legends is "L’affaire Cellphone". From the Mission Impossible inspired covertness with which Tom Cruise impersonators spring "cellphone raids" upon hapless students, to meticulous authorities that crack the whip on campus. These are by far the most entertaining tales exchanged. I would want to tell you how cellphones are the SMS lifelines of college societies and activity clubs. But well, what is that going to change?
Paradoxes of Quantum Physics are passé. It is the youth they can’t comprehend. Be it the Amir Khans of then and their Papa Kehte Hais, or today’s silver screen stars that go "Duuuuuudee Wasssssuuppp" in movies, their misrepresentations make us choke on our chewing gum. You want college lingo? "Arbit", "Maccha", "Stud", "Pseud", "Belt"… there you go. Enough for a dozen film scripts. Don’t make us cringe with second rate approximations, Bollywood!
So yes, Fests, Exams, Activity Clubs, Highs, lows, rant against unfair rules, myth-busting, trumpeting-our-achievements, beating stereotypes hollow, all shall be done in good time (and with overpowering hints of Drama). Having covered the usual suspects, in the first post itself, we promise to go beyond the regular gilt. Watch this space!
That was thoroughly enjoyable! Thank you for redeeming my own cringing response to bollywood’s cheap version of campus life.
Sometime I worry that my disgust at such improbably stupid representations of college culture points to a sad erosion of my much cherished memories of that time of my life..
Looking forward to some real campus stories on this blog! 🙂
well written! its a pity mainstream media does little to bring out the lives in our campuses. today our college life is widely perceived as a collage of RDB, chetan bhagat and the rankings that come out in our weeklies.
Dear Siri- with your beautifully articulated piece, you are only reinforcing the ‘myth’ that “College days are the best times. So, Carefree and so worriless!” 🙂 Makes me want to go back to Campus Diem indeed (both as student and teacher…)