This article comes to us from Khush Alam Singh, a second year student from Jindal Global Law School. When he’s not busy debating or reading about international affairs, he can be found around campus with is headphones on, listening to EDM.
It is now confirmed in my head that the best way to realize the sheer luxury and comforts that surround us is to experience life in a manner that is far removed from what you have been accustomed to. I had the chance to do that during my summer break, while I was interning at the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh.
I am a second-year student at Jindal Global Law School and believe me, if you’re thinking something along the lines of a super progressive, liberal-minded brat who has the bucks to pay for quality education – I’ve heard it way too many times before. I wouldn’t personally place myself in such a category, but for now I’ll let it slide. Let me just state for the record– Jindal has incredibly posh hostels. Different hostel blocks have different designs, but the infrastructure and furnishing is undoubtedly one of the best across the country. It is difficult for me to think of bunk beds in a National Law University. But at Jindal, it is PRETTY normal.
And perhaps, a little frustrating. You don’t want to get down from your bunk, situated way above the floor, cursing under your breath and trudging to the Academic Block for an 8 AM.
Naturally, I must admit that I have gotten used to it. I must admit that I’ve also become antsy about the slightest of inconveniences and issues. But all that has changed ever since I decided to stay in my close friend’s hostel room for the internship.
My friend is a student at University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS), Panjab University. And while I was scouting for potential places to stay, which were in reasonable proximity to the Court, he was more than willing to let me stay in his hostel room. Looking to cut down on expenses and develop a sense of making economically-wise decisions, I accepted his generous invitation and came to Chandigarh.
Within minutes of entering Hostel No. 4, I was to realize that I had arrived in a world so drastically different. An environment that I had to get used to, if I had to survive four weeks.
The hostel room was missing possibly one-third of the space that I normally enjoy at Jindal. And no Sodexo housekeeping services available on call – you get a broom and sweep all the dust and garbage by yourself. Worst of all, it is summer in all its glory – and no air-conditioning.
If you think the nightmares stop there, then you thought too soon. No attached bathroom – you have to go to the end of the corridor. No showers either, you have to purchase a bucket and mug for your daily baths. And here’s the second bombshell of the whole experience – Indian-style toilets.
This wasn’t some sort of wilful experimentation of living conditions. This was a necessity. Saving on daily costs was always at the back of my mind for any decisions that were required to be made throughout this duration. And I was honestly just grateful for a roof over my head and a bed to roll into after a long day of work.
Slowly, but surely, I started settling into it. I found that cleaning your own room had its own reward in the form of the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that came with it. Slowly, my body acclimatized to the lack of air-conditioning and I got used to sleeping topless without sweating profusely. I didn’t have a driving license, which meant that I had to choose cost-efficient methods of travel. And so, the initial Olas and Ubers gave way for the autos and CTU bus rides.
That didn’t mean that all days weren’t hard. I didn’t have a driving license, which meant my movements were highly restricted. I mostly just stepped out and walked miles within the campus to get supplies from the market. Power cuts were frequent, which meant sitting in pitch-black darkness and waiting for the power supply to be restored.
But I was content with mostly everything. The university reading room was a good place to get some air-conditioned coolness and to feel inadequate about yourself. You would too, looking at the hundred people studying every night for competitive examinations with dedication. The Student Centre was my dinner spot, which had great food at highly affordable rates. Makes me genuinely think that I could get used to that kind of life. And probably that I should’ve worked harder for law entrance tests. Relatable for some.
We all hear our parents talking about their experiences when they were students. My father’s college was in Shimla, and he walked every day to class. My mother used to cycle for an hour to get to school. I cannot ever fully experience those times, but I think I got pretty close this summer. Of course, I know now that I have valuable privileges and resources at my disposal.
This internship was not just about acquiring work experience. It was a lesson in privilege and gratefulness. And this lesson is important for all of us. We can all find and choose our moments, where we appreciate what we have. Some days, that’s all that you need. I know that now.