This post was submitted by Abhinaba Sarkar, a first-year (Batch 2016-2021) at the Gujarat National Law University, and one of Ergo’s Ambassadors.
I am a KViian*
I swore by a code, lived by it and will kill for it, no nothing like that. I wasn’t an Assassin, a Templar, a Mason or a Belieber. (OK, Beliebers don’t kill) But we lived as a fraternity. Had a “disciplined” way of life. “Discipline” is a doubtable word, I admit, so let me clarify. “0730 hrs: Assembly”, “0900 hrs: Reporting for Parade, but we turn up at 0845 hrs”, “Boots Shined till I See my Face”, “Senior is never Wrong” et al, is what I mean by it.
[*Students from Kendriya Vidyalayas are referred to (dis)affectionately as KViians]
So, I have spent 12 years with an institution, that drills camaraderie and brotherhood into your soul without a chance of erasure.
An aspiring JAG Officer, I appear for CLAT. Yes, much to the surprise of my School’s teachers, I did not turn up for JEE. Much luck and after, I turn up at Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar.
My world itself changed! Turned upside down! I began to see no point in a 0430 hrs call-up and it became the new “LIGHTS OUT”. Used to a served breakfast on a table, I start waiting in a line for a coveted “Chheej Sendvich”. The intricate art of dining began to lose glimmer, because cutlery at the GNLU Mess is limited to Spoons. Yes, I eat “Meggi” with a spoon. This wasn’t the sort of Mess I was accustomed to. Mess meant a place to sit down and eat and socialise, that however remained unchanged. What changed was how the Mess worked. “ONLY FULL OR BROKEN SHOES. NO SANDALS OR SLIPPERS” was the guideline for footwear, once upon a time. “SHIRTS WITH COLLAR ONLY. NO ROUNDNECK OR T-SHIRTS” was the “Dress-code” for even an “Open Day”. But it changed, to a relief actually. I began to turn up for meals in a round necked T-shirt wearing sandals and could actually talk over meals in a non-hushed tone and ate rice without a fork, dipped rotis straight into the daal and did not “roll-and-stuff” a roti with a fork to eat. This carefreeness was a relief, from the prim and the proper.
Next hit I took, was on my “WAYS”. I suddenly realised girls among your own batch do not like being addressed as Miss [Last Name Here] and find it rather offending. They do not acknowledge you getting up while they join a table, because as I learnt later they do not want to be treated differently from boys in our batch. I found out similar rules apply on opening doors, pulling out chairs and helping them with their bags. And also, I realised addressing a boy from your batch as “Young Man” is deemed as illogical. They too prefer being referred by first names instead of last. Addressing seniors was another concern. Brought up to address seniors as “Sir” and “Ma’am” I had no qualms to it. The problem arose when I had to decide where I should not use “Sir” or “Ma’am”, because some prohibited the practice and others encouraged it. And to differentiate both was difficult. So I had a trick up my sleeve, I began addressing seniors as [Last Name Here] Sa’ab or [First Name Here] Ji. That sounded awkward at first, but now I stick to it.
Courtesy my difficult-to-pronounce first name, and also to feel more “at-home”, I continue to insist people, batchmates, seniors or even faculty, to call me “SARKAR” instead of the weird articulations they subject my first name to.
What exactly happened to me was a drastic change in circumstances, causing me to change. I must admit that I was actually a victim of something which was almost, but not quite, a cultural shock. It was more about lifestyle than about cultures. I came from a very diverse schooling system, but diversity was confined to linguistic, cultural, religious and regional natures. I was a part of a system of highly homogenised lifestyles, in people whose outlook about things was same as mine, whose “good” was same as my “good” and whose idea of “good food”, “good looks”, “good movies”, “good books”, “good hairstyle” and “good music” was mine too.
But at GNLU, I was thrust into a world where I met people almost for the first time whose “good” was “great” or even seemed “bad” to me.
I met people of diverse ideological backgrounds. Learnt to appreciate new types of music, books, looks and people. I learnt that my opinion on stuff though important wasn’t the only one possible. So, I’m friends with people with whom I would if not a GNLUiite would have been at ideological loggerheads. Being at GNLU for me was like a man from the mountains reaching the sea. I thought heights of the mountains to be all encompassing features of greatness, till I realised there is depth of the seas.
The experience at GNLU was bittersweet. Leaving my home port, I had jumped into the open seas. I had my share of fair seas, as well as some tough sailing, but I’m thankful that the wind still blows, the sun still shines and my ship is afloat. With great batchmates, seniors, faculty, friends as fellow hands, keeping my ship sailing with flying colours, isn’t so difficult after all.
I’m proud to be part of another fraternity now and have a new identity. I’m proud to be a GNLUite.
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